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Redbridge Muslim chairman questions plans for rival anti-radicalisation scheme

PUBLISHED: 07:12 26 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:20 28 October 2016

Farouk Ismail, FORMO's chief executive

Farouk Ismail, FORMO's chief executive

Archant

British Muslim faith leaders are considering creating their own anti-radicalisation scheme, in light of concerns about the government’s own initiative.

The plans were announced by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) last week, as part of its progress report.

The body began an investigation last year into how Muslims should challenge the problem of terrorism, and what action it is believed the government needs to take.

Now it has concluded, halfway through its investigation, that the government’s counter-radicalisation Prevent scheme “singles out” Muslims as potential extremists.

The body’s programme, which will focus on mosques, will see faith leaders, mental health workers and former police officers work together to detect people at risk of radicalisation.

Farouk Ismail, chairman of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations (FORMO), questioned the announcement.

He said: “As Muslims and citizens of this country, it goes without saying we are against any crimes and injustices, whether committed here or in any part of the world.

“The big issue with Prevent is that rather than focusing on those who have committed criminal acts to really understand the real causes, it has put three million Muslims under suspicion by blaming Islam itself, rather than the acts of individual Muslims.

“This does not happen for any other crimes or group of people, as clearly it would be ludicrous to target a whole community for the actions of a few who happen to come from that community.

“The MCB are merely undertaking a national consultation or listening exercise, which commenced in November 2015 so that they can provide to the government an informative and evidence based response.

“It will be up to the government if it chooses to listen or not.

“There is no need for the flawed and secretly founded original version or any subsequent version, and there certainly is no need for a rival version.”

Farouk said people should be able to practice their religion freely and without fear of government interference.

“Muslims are amongst the most patriotic and charitable people in the country,” he told the Recorder.

“We should be free to practice our faith without fear and without being labelled with such undefined terms as extremist and non-violent extremist.

“One cannot simply be labelled an extremist if one comments on injustices committed around the world, some of which by our own foreign policies.”

He added: “The MCB initiative is welcome as long as it does not seek to create a version of Prevent.

“It is counter-intuitive as it stifles debate, with children no longer having a safe space to discuss and raise issues.

“If they cannot discuss freely at home or at school/university or in a mosque, then they can become more isolated and ironically more prone to undue influence from online sources.

“There is much to do to restore trust, to educate and to promote community cohesion.

“This should be the main focus.”


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