“New weapons” combating Muslim violence: Irony
After all, “a lot of them [Muslim youth], even the ones in trouble, keep some kind of connection with the mosque.” Maybe that’s why they are violent and anti-social in the first place?
“Imams to help police in bid to keep young Muslims away from gang culture,” by David Leask for News.Scotsman.com, February 15:
A NEW weapon will be unveiled this week in the war on teenage gangs: Muslim Imams.
Scotland on Sunday can reveal that several Islamic clerics will join police and youth workers in an innovative new scheme to wean young Muslims away from trouble.
The Imams — most Scottish-born — will take to the streets starting this week, targeting a dozen teenagers believed to be on the edge of the embryonic Asian gang culture on Glasgow’s Southside.
Their allies, including workers from Youth Counselling Services Agency (YCSA), a support group for young Asians, reckon the clerics will be able to command more respect from youngsters than other professionals, including the police.
They will launch their programme just days after the first serious youth disorder in Pollokshields, home to Scotland’s biggest Muslim community, since last summer. Four Asians — three young men and a youth — were last week charged with assault after an alleged attack on white men when a snowball fight reportedly escalated into serious violence.
Pollokshields, especially its poorer eastern end, has seen a rise in anti-social behaviour over the past decade, but has not yet been gripped by the gang culture that dominates many other inner city areas. Youth workers, however, fear that youth crime, while less serious than elsewhere, is growing much faster.
Adeel Ibrahim, a YCSA worker with frontline experience of dealing with young offenders, said: “We really have to nip this in the bud. There is not a lot of drinking here. So if we have the trouble we have without alcohol, imagine what it will be like if they start drinking.”
Two teenagers have died in Pollokshields in the past decade. First, 15-year-old Imran Khan lost his life after being stabbed in 1998 in a gang fight. Then, in 2004, another 15-year-old, Kriss Donald, died after being kidnapped and tortured by a notorious Asian gang. Donald’s killers were the first men in Scotland sentenced for a racially motivated murder.
There has been little racial tension in Pollokshields since Donald’s killing, but some young Asians are drifting into a gang culture similar to that of their white neighbours and schoolfriends. The whiter end of Pollokshields has long had its gang, Young Shields Mad Skwad. Some Asians have flirted with various loose affiliations including, in the past, the Young Shields or Black Shields, and, more recently, the Shields Paki Kru.
The Imams and the YCSA, backed by groups such as Glasgow Community and Safety Services, have set their sights firmly on youngsters lured by the gang lifestyle.
Also known as the jihadi lifestyle, which tends to attract “mischievous” boys.
Omar Ansari, a youth leader at YCSA, said: “We are targeting a specific group of people who are causing most concern, people who are excluded or isolated from the wider community. The Imams will be a great help — we need all the skill sets we can get.
“The main thing is that they know a lot of the young people because a lot of them, even the ones in trouble, keep some kind of connection with the mosque. If the Imam doesn’t know that young person, it’s very likely the person will know the Imam.”
The Imams about to take part in the scheme, from mosques such as Pollokshields’ respected Masjid Noor, have gone through all the usual channels, securing Disclosure Scotland background checks like any other person who wants to work with young people.
Most are Scottish-born and have a clear understanding of the kind of third-generation Pakistani Scots they will be dealing with. They all know they can’t afford just to preach to youngsters: they have, they stress, got to find some common language.