I hope this project succeeds. Of course, it is based on the assumption that the jihadists are interpreting Islam’s texts improperly. While that may be true, it is noteworthy that neither Muslims in Britain nor those elsewhere have mounted any large-scale challenge to the jihadist interpretation, which hews closely to those texts and presents itself as “pure Islam.”
“Pilot projects target extremism,” by Dominic Casciani for the BBC, with thanks to Wayne:
Pilot projects to root out Islamist extremists grooming young Muslims are being planned for British cities.
The government says local authorities will be able to bid for Â£5m for trial schemes to help Muslim communities tackle the threat of extremism.
Local groups are being asked to come up with ideas for projects such as anti-extremism forums.
Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly said the battle for hearts and minds could only be won at grassroots level….
Some of the new groups holding talks in Whitehall have urged ministers to shift their focus from major government-initiated projects on extremism to grassroots action.
Up to 50 local authorities are now being asked to work with Muslim communities to come up with schemes that could be repeated nationwide.
“We need a new, strengthened partnership and unity of purpose to isolate those who seek to divide us,” said Ms Kelly.
“There are many people in Muslim communities who are already taking a brave stand and doing incredible work. It’s important we do more to support them specifically through local authorities and organisations who know their communities best.”
Among the ideas being floated are schemes to target alienated young men who may be vulnerable to grooming by extremists because they do not attend local mosques, have jobs or go to college.
Another proposal is a network of local anti-radicalisation forums which would be charged with countering extremist street politics and interpretations of holy texts.
The government also wants to see leadership projects for Imams and Muslim women alongside training and information for Islamic institutions to help them spot the warning signs.
Khurshid Ahmed, chairman of the British Muslim Forum, based in the West Midlands, said he welcomed the change in government tactics – but added that more needed to be done, particularly to support young Muslims trying to run their own deradicalisation programmes….
“But we need a lot more money than this. Extremism is like a virus that needs a very strong dose of vaccine in order to be dealt with. While Â£5m is a start, we could spend Â£5m in Birmingham alone….”
Much more could and should be done — by Muslims, in the mosques, without any government money at all.