Imams and Muslim community leaders in Britian have launched an online magazine to counter Islamic State militant group’s extremist propaganda.
‘Haqiqah’ (Reality), which aims to show young people ISIS’ message has no theological basis, has been created by the UK’s ImamsOnline.com. “The frontline for imams in the 21st century is not the pulpit, it is online, on social media, on YouTube, on Twitter,” Shaukat Warraich, the site’s editor, told the ‘Guardian’.
“There is a perception that Islamic institutions are not doing enough to fight against ISIS but this is clearly evidence that imams are coming together to make themselves heard. British imams in particular are saying we are going to take this on,” he said. The launch coincides with latest data which said that eight people a day were referred to the UK government’s de-radicalisation scheme, known as “Channel”.
Between June and August, 796 people in England and Wales were reported to the programme for possible intervention and a third of the total, 312, were aged under 18, according to the UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council.
This is more than double the level of referrals recorded in the first three months of 2014-15. People identified at risk of being drawn into terrorism are assessed and about a fifth of these are required to attend de-radicalisation sessions.
Public bodies such as schools and local councils are legally required to spot such cases.
“Any solution to the problem of extremism has to come from the community. The Muslim community has suffered more at the hands of these extremists than anyone else. It is not in our interests at all to condone what they are saying, it brings our faith into disrepute, it poisons our young people and it fuels anti-Muslim sentiment,” said Qari Asim, senior imam at Makkah mosque in the northern England city of Leeds.
UK security minister John Hayes said: “As a country, we have a duty to challenge, at every turn, the twisted narrative that has corrupted some of our vulnerable young people. “Referrals to Channel have increased, but only a small percentage of these go on to require specialist intervention support.
“We have dedicated sufficient resources to the programme to cope with demand and we will keep this position under close review.”