What Effect will Brexit Have on Muslims in the UK?

The triggering of Article 50 on 29th of March which signalled the start of the two-year long process of the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU has been met with hugely differing reactions. From those in the Leave camp who want the country’s national sovereignty restored, it is hard to remember a time in recent history when the UK has felt so divided. This feeling has only been exacerbated by Scotland’s decision to hold a second independence referendum.

While many people across the country – and indeed the whole EU – are feeling uncertain and even scared, for some communities this worry is stronger than others.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum for the UK to leave the EU it was recorded that there was a 41% increase in hate crimes, which includes racially or religiously aggravated crimes. And Muslim women, in particular those who openly express their faith by wearing the hijab or the burqa, are more vulnerable to attacks than men. Tell MAMA, an organisation that measures anti-Muslim attacks, noted that “women were more likely to be attacked or abused while travelling on public transport to town and city centres or when shopping.”

This is a consequence of a Leave campaign which relied on anti-immigrant rhetoric to gain votes. The issue of high levels of immigration has been an issue for the British electorate for many years now, as they fear the rising population to be a strain on public services. Nigel Farage, former leader of UKIP, took advantage of this fear by unveiling a highly controversial poster during the campaign which was of a queue of immigrants, largely from the Middle East, with the words “Breaking point: the EU has failed us all.”

However, this increase in hate crime – and especially Islamophobia – did not begin with the referendum. The far-right in the UK has been growing in recent years, with groups taking advantage of the internet and social media to reach more people. Tommy Robinson, co-founder of the English Defence League, has a large following on Twitter which he uses as a platform.

The political climate of Brexit, along with the US election of Donald Trump, has marginalised many ethnic minorities in both the UK and the US. Prime Minister Theresa May failed to condemn President Trump’s policy of a travel ban for some majority-Muslim countries. This has led to many ethnic minorities, especially Muslims, feeling isolated and stigmatised as ‘terrorists’.

Another issue that Brexit brings is whether citizens’ rights will still be protected. Currently the UK abides to the European Court of Human Rights and its rulings, where families and individuals are protected. Leaving the EU will mean that a new set of rights will be drawn up, which could affect the rights of many citizens, especially immigrants, in the UK.

Despite these numerous causes for concern, the attack in Westminster on March 22nd, rather than inciting racism and Islamophobia led instead to an outpouring of solidarity. London, being the second most culturally diverse city in the world, united in the face of terrorism.

Islam as a religion should not be smeared by horrific individual acts. The recent news of a Kurdish-Iranian 17 year old asylum seeker being attacked in Croydon is shocking, yet in a way unsurprising. Unfortunately, there is now an unjustified fear of immigrants, which means that in the UK, Muslims and other ethnic minorities have to be careful whilst in public. Muslim women should be especially careful as their headwear is indicative of their faith. Until the process of Brexit is settled and an immigration policy is decided, the far right will use the platform of social media to make immigrants the enemy.

At JAN Trust, we believe that this climate of fear is counter-productive in creating tolerance in a British society which takes pride in multiculturalism. The UK must remain tolerant of other communities if we are to progress and improve as a society.

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, british, Campaign, Campaigning, Citizenship, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, hijab, Inclusion, International, International Affairs, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Muslim, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, Representation, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Banning the hijab in workplaces is a step backwards in the fight for unity

A new ‘integration law’ has been introduced by the Austrian government, which is to ban all Muslim face veils in public places. The law is expected to be implemented this year. The draft law in Austria also envisages a full ban on any Muslim headscarves for all state and public officials, police personnel, judges and prosecutors as part of the “neutrality standard in the public services.” Around 3000 women marched in Vienna in retaliation. There were chants and placards with the words “Hey Minister, hands off my sister”.

The news in Austria did not receive as much media coverage as the ruling from the EU’s highest court ruled that employers can ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols, including niqabs or headscarves. This news is coming in the wake of elections and policy issues throughout Europe which have surrounded the topic of immigration and national security issues.

Europe’s right-wing have welcomed this ruling, while humans right and religious groups have condemned it as impeaching upon individuals’ religious freedoms. The ruling applies to all religious symbols, but targets Muslim women due to the hijab being an outward sign of a religious practice. In response to the ruling, many Muslim women have expressed surprise as it discourages Muslim women working.

The ruling however is unsurprising considering the right-wing sentiment sweeping across Europe. Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate of France, has condemned citizens wearing religious symbols in France, stating that those who do are “No longer living a  French life”. France became the first European country to ban the burqa and niqab in 2010.

We at JAN Trust believe that this ruling suggests that these European governments do not welcome multicultural communities. It means that Muslim women who wear headscarves will be further prevented from accessing the job market. They are already one of the most unemployed ethnic groups in the UK. This may also lead to a rise in Islamophobia due to this discrimination in the job market.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

London is a diverse city – we cannot let a terrorist attack stir up hatred and fear

 

 

Yesterday, in shocking and tragic scenes broadcast across the world, London suffered its first terrorist attack for over a decade. The British capital had not seen similar tragedy since the 7/7 bombings which claimed 52 lives and injured countless more.

The attacks yesterday, which claimed the lives of four people, including PC Keith Palmer, a police officer on duty at the time. The attack injured dozens more and took place at the heart of British democracy in Westminster when a truck drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing it outside parliament and trying to enter the Palace of Westminster, armed with a knife.

While the attacks themselves were, of course, shocking, what has been heart-warming has been London’s reaction. People from all sides have condemned the violence and expressed sympathy for the victims and their families without falling prey to the divisive anti-Islamic propaganda the far-right has, inevitably, tried to whip up.

When Tommy Robinson, ex EDL leader and Islamophobe, rushed to the scene of the attacks yesterday afternoon to spout his hate speech, he was ridiculed and branded a “vile opportunist”.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan released a statement yesterday vowing that “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism”, and this sentiment has been mirrored across social media. The hashtag #WeStandTogether has been trending since the aftermath of the attacks yesterday evening with people rejecting the hatred that both those responsible for attacks and the far right are seeking to promote.

And it is just this solidarity and community support is ultimately what we need to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again.

The fact that the assailant was British-born proves, once again, that the way to deal with extremism is not a “ban on immigrants or refugees”, but a need to prevent people within our communities from becoming radicalised by predatory extremists.

Whilst our Police are trying to discover the exact motives of the assailant, he was already known to MI5, indicating some level of concern. There may have been at least one sign that should have been noticed by those around him – his friends, family and community. Had this been the case, the attacks yesterday may have been prevented.

Today the news broke that Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old man born in Kent, was the assailant of the attack. Daesh took responsibility for the attacks, calling him a “soldier of the Islamic State”.

As far as we know, the assailant had never been to Daesh’s caliphate – meaning that he may have been indoctrinated in another way, potentially via the internet.

Radicalisation, from both groups such as Daesh or the far right, is a growing problem, particularly on the internet and one which parents and families are often unaware of or unsure how to deal with.

Countering this threat, as a community, is exactly what JAN Trust does with our Web Guardians© programme. We to prevent extremist radicalisation by educating parents about the dangers of extremism online so that they can counter these threats and, ultimately, ensure their children do not follow this same path.

To commemorate the victims, a service took place in front of Scotland Yard on Thursday morning, in front of the flame that burns as a tribute to all dead, and a vigil is planned for this evening at 6pm in Trafalgar Square.

At JAN Trust we want to express our deepest sympathies for all of the victims and their families and friends.

What we must now do is ensure that these attacks do not achieve their aim of dividing us but serve instead to unite us and work, together, so that such a tragedy is not allowed to happen again.

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Citizenship, Daesh, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, Hate Crime, Inclusion, International, International Affairs, ISIS, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Muslim, Politics, Racism, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Representation, Society, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Web Guardians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Uniting For A Better Internet: What We Can All Do To Stop Extreme Content Reaching Our Kids

 

Hate speech, online ‘trolls’ and extremists who use the internet to target our children were thrust back into the headlines this week as MPs summoned tech giants to answer why they’re not doing more to stop it.

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google were asked by the Home Affairs select committee why they did not police their content more effectively.

The social media leaders were told their companies had a “terrible reputation” for dealing with problems.

It is a welcome move. Pressure needs to be put on these companies to do more. They are often accused of putting profit over the safeguarding of young people and at this hearing, MPs asked exactly that tough question.

The response was an acknowledgement that they are indeed not doing enough.

We are gravely concerned that terrorist organisations such as Daesh are ramping up their efforts to target young adults here in the UK via the platforms these tech giants provide, so any progress made to more effectively police content is great news.

Back in December 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft announced they were teaming up to tackle extremist content. They pledged to work together to identify and remove extremist content on their platforms through an information-sharing initiative.

This represented a welcome first step. We hope that the Home Affairs select committee hearing will encourage further moves forward.

However, the content on these sites and apps is vast. We, as users, need to assist in policing and reporting far-right, terrorist or bullying content so that the tech companies can act.

And we also need to monitor what our children are accessing when online, whether that’s via computer or their smartphones.

Safer Internet Day 2017 was celebrated globally on Tuesday 7th February with the theme ‘Be the change: unite for a better internet’. We published a blog on the day focusing on what parents can and should do to play their part in safeguarding our kids. This holds the key.

It’s right that the powers that be from the tech giants are taken to task about their safeguarding shortcomings and challenged about how and when they are going to start doing more to remove extreme content.

But each and every one of us must unite in our fight to ensure threatening posts which can lead to radicalised views do not reach and begin to indoctrinate our children.

We must educate ourselves and our children about online material and what to do if we come across it. Understanding that while the internet is an incredibly valuable resource it can pose a risk to our wellbeing.

At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project. Our sessions explore how to deal with the threats and how to speak with our children about them.

Our strategy begins right in our homes. We are encouraged by government moves to question the social media giants and hope this leads to a reduction of extremist content online. But we must work together, uniting for a better internet. And for a brighter future. for our children.

Posted in Uncategorized

Celebrating International Women’s Day at JAN Trust

for blog

Happy International Woman’s Day to women (and men) across the world! Many events are happening today, including a general strike in the US against the current administration and their attitude towards women and a parallel Day Without Women strike in the UK to highlight women’s contribution to the economy. A highlight of the day is set to be Malala Yousafzai’s UN speech which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.  

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the world, socially, economically, culturally and politically. The day also calls for gender equality. International Women’s Day is important in symbolising the power of women across the world. This day is a day to commemorate the hard work that women all over the work commit to in order to achieve their dream. Last Year the campaign was a pledge to end gender disparity. This year, the International Women’s Day theme is to Be Bold for Change,- encouraging women to be empowered in the fight for gender equality. .

Currently, despite the UN’s theme of achieving 50/50 gender equality by 2030, it is estimated that this will not happen for 170 years. However, the fight for gender equality has been slowly making progress.

Last week, the UK Parliament voted to pass a bill which aims to end domestic violence. And since International Women’s Day last year, gender equality around the world has progressed. The US Senate has more women than ever before. Maternal mortality has fallen by 45% since 1990. In terms of representation, more movies now have female protagonists. Rwanda’s parliament has the highest number of women representatives in the world. In terms of educational attainment, girls are outperforming boys.

Of course, despite these changes there is still much to be improved and awareness still needs to be raised around the issues facing women and girls. Still, one in three women experience gender-based violence and annually 62 million girls are denied access to education.

At JAN Trust, we have helped to empower over 110,000 women by giving them skills to improve their employment prospects including IT, English and fashion. Our Web Guardians© programme works to provide women and mothers to tackle extremism and online radicalisation, protecting their young ones. Furthermore, our Against Female Genital Mutilation and Against Forced Marriages campaigns work to raise awareness of the human rights abuses women suffer around the world on a daily basis. During this month of celebrating women’s achievements, if you would like to support the work that JAN Trust does, text JANT00 £10 to 70070.

Our Director, Sajda Mughal OBE, has said:

“Every year I welcome International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and also the potential of women. As the leader of a multi-award winning women’s charity, JAN Trust, I recognise the key role that women play in society, a role that is often overlooked. I work to create gender parity in all areas by providing women with the skills so that they can integrate, feel confident in their abilities and fulfil their full potential.  For JAN Trust, being Bold For Change means unlocking the potential that women all over the world have. As leaders, we have a responsibility to take decisive action to help include and advance women. Everyone – women, men and non-binary people – can pledge to take a step to help achieve gender parity in whatever way they can. At JAN Trust this includes helping women to believe that they can push themselves to achieve their very best and take control of their lives. In 2017 let us all #BeBoldForChange and fight for gender parity between men and women.”

#IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange

Posted in Uncategorized

Vulnerable Minds: How Daesh is Recruiting Iraqi Children and Targeting British Teenagers

As Iraqi forces’ liberation of Mosul continues, attention is increasingly focusing on what Daesh will do next.

It’s feared their leaders, members and sympathisers will ramp up their sinister efforts to target our young people here in Europe, calling for so-called ‘lone wolf’ attacks on home soil, prompting calls for us all to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting our children online.

One of Daesh’s most horrifying future strategies is the indoctrination and training of a new generation of fighters. As Daesh’s failed ‘caliphate’ collapses, hoards of fighters have been deserting the ranks – if they haven’t already been killed in combat or suicide attacks. Now, Daesh is preying on the most vulnerable and malleable minds: those of Iraqi and Syrian children.

The Independent recently published letters from young radicalised recruits to their parents, discovered at abandoned Daesh hideouts in eastern Mosul. They make for heart-wrenching reading.

One, written by Iraqi schoolboy Alaa Abd al-Akeedi, says: “My dear family, please forgive me. Don’t be sad and don’t wear the black clothes [of mourning]. I asked to get married and you did not marry me off. So, by God, I will marry the 72 virgins in paradise.” He was killed by his suicide vest shortly after. It’s thought he was just 16 years old.

The news agency Reuters has managed to gain access to relatives of the teenagers who left the notes.

Family members tell a story of innocence; of vulnerable, fragile minds being targeted and then indoctrinated. A man reveals that his teenage relative, who was recruited by Daesh and killed in a suicide attack, had been overweight and insecure and joined the jihadists after his father’s death. He told Reuters: “His mind was fragile and they took advantage of that, promising him virgins and lecturing him about being a good Muslim. If someone had tempted him with drugs and alcohol, he probably would have done that instead.”

It is this last statement that hits home. As parents, we all understand the worry that our children will hang out in the ‘wrong crowd’ and get into drugs. Young minds are open to influence and eager to try new things – to ‘grow up’. It can be as easy as that.

In Iraq and Syria, young people may not be exposed to violence in the same format that our children are in the UK. Despite our efforts to shelter or protect them, our kids consume film, TV, online and video game violence to a point of such desensitisation that it is normalised. They witness the violence occurring in places like Syria and Iraq through their screens.

Syrian and Iraqi children on the other hand are directly witnessing violence on the streets in the most gruesome and horrific ways. Some have even been exposed to it under the regime of Daesh as the terrorist group took control of their neighbourhoods, yet even they are vulnerable to radicalisation.

Violence is glamourised in action films and video games in the virtual world British children often live in. The brutal realities of extreme violence are all too real for many Iraqi and Syrian children.

Some may be more susceptible to radicalisation than others. But all are vulnerable.

Phone apps and the Internet make it simple for a direct line to be formed between a Daesh militant in Iraq and our children here in the UK. Daesh knows that our young people are excited by video game violence, by the idea of handling a rifle and fighting an enemy.

Considering all of this, we must educate ourselves about the dangers and threats are children face and ensure lines of communication are open between us as parents and our children to protect them and prevent radicalisation.

At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project.

Many families have been destroyed by Daesh. JAN Trust is helping in the struggle against home-grown radicalisation so that more families do not have to suffer this same fate.

If you are interested in finding out more about Web Guardians© go to http://jantrust.org/projects/web-guardians

Posted in british, Citizenship, Daesh, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Facebook, Inclusion, International, International Affairs, Iraq, ISIS, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Middle East, Mosul, Muslim, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Shia, Society, Syria, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Marine Le Pen’s Vision of an Islamophobic France

Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate for the National Front party, a right-wing party which has not been in power since its founding in the 1960s, has caused endless controversy with her campaign. She has stated that she is opposed to a multicultural France and in similar words to Trump’s during his presidential campaign. that she wants to place “France first”.

Inevitably, Nigel Farage, one of the pioneers of the ‘Brexit movement’, supports the election of Marine Le Pen, signifying the political stance that Le Pen takes. Like Farage she is also calling to leave the European Union, so that, in her view, France would have  more control over its borders and is able to lower immigration levels. In 2015 she appeared in court  for inciting hate speech when, in 2010, she compared Muslims praying in the street to a Nazi occupation. Her father, founder and previous leader of the National Front, was fined in 2016 for denying that the Holocaust during the Nazi era ever occurred.

Similarly to many right-wing movements in Europe and the US, her focus is now largely on the so-called “threat” of Islam. She has stated: “We do not want to live under the rule or threat of Islamic fundamentalism. They are looking to impose on us gender discrimination in public places, full body veils or not, prayer rooms in the workplace, prayers in the street, huge mosques… or the submission of women”.

Regarding immigration, she suggested that future generations of children will not speak French as immigration will dominate and change French culture. She has said that “Every minute, every instant, from Brittany to Corsica and from Lille to Strasbourg, the French look around them, and ask themselves: Where am I?”. Unsurprisingly, her policies are very nationalist. She has stated that French nationals would have to renounce dual citizenship if their second nationality is from outside Europe. Her views coincide strongly with President Trump’s, she advocated support for his travel ban, stating that people who opposed it did so in “bad faith.” One of her senior aides admitted that a Muslim travel ban, like the one introduced in the US recently, would work in France.

Fortunately, while Le Pen is en route to winning the first round of voting in France, sheis unlikely to become President of France according to predictions. Polls show her to be 20-30% behind the other candidates in the last round of voting in May. Then again, polls failed to predict both the outcome of the EU referendum in the UK and of the US presidential election.

Whatever the outcome, Le Pen’s vitriolic campaign has furthered division and exacerbated support for xenophobic sentiments. She is a xenophobic and discriminatory politician who is preying on the fears of voters by using immigrants as scapegoats. She is taking advantage of populist sentiment across Europe and the US. The current political climate of hatred is worrying for charities like JAN Trust which aim to promote inclusivity and integration.

For more information on our work to combat racism and Islamophobia, visit our website: www.jantrust.org

Posted in discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Far right, Hate Crime, hijab, Inclusion, International Affairs, islamophobia, Politics, Racism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The experience of immigrants in the UK must not be underestimated as anything other than a struggle

 

While immigrants have often experienced difficulties integrating into a new society, in the past few years in the UK they have experienced increasing problems as a direct result of anti-immigration rhetoric from political parties which have then influenced citizens and government.

Even some immigrants who have been in the UK for two decades still struggle to integrate because of linguistic barriers or because they cannot find employment. The language barrier automatically suggests that they are uneducated when, in reality, it just prevents them from being able to properly express themselves. Even when an immigrant’s English is good, they can be held back by their accent which can cause miscommunication.

The children of these immigrants who are born in the UK and defined as ‘second-generation’ immigrants, integrate much more easily, if not always completely, into British society. As a result, there can be a huge generational gap in terms of ideas and culture. They often rely on their children for help with things they cannot understand; potentially making them feel even more like a burden. However, this is one of the main reasons that immigrants have come to the UK, to provide a better life for their children even if they themselves will struggle.

And this is before we even consider the xenophobia. As Kenyan-Somali poet Warsan Shire writes, when an immigrant arrives to their destination country:

And you are greeted on the other side

with

go home blacks, refugees

dirty immigrants, asylum seekers

sucking our country dry of milk,

dark, with their hands out

smell strange, savage –

look what they’ve done to their own countries,’

 

As has been proven, employment opportunities are scarcer because of discrimination based on the colour of your skin or your religion. In recent years as services and resources are becoming more constrained, the first scapegoat becomes the immigrant – migrants have taken the jobs, are taking benefits unnecessarily, are exploiting the NHS. Rhetoric which has been heard too often.

 

As a result, many women do not integrate and there are areas of the UK where divisions and xenophobia are rife. JAN Trust aims to help immigrants who are struggling to integrate with a variety of classes including English and ICT classes. To find out more go to http://jantrust.org/.

Posted in british, Citizenship, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Hate Crime, islamophobia, mental health, Online abuse, Online hate, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , ,

Why Trump’s Discrimination against Muslim American Women is Damaging for the World

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In possibly the most shocking event of the twenty-first century, four-time bankrupted businessman and reality star Donald J. Trump has ridden to power on a wave of populism based on the exploitation of economic and social grievances of parts of the American public.

In only his first month, he has already managed to become the most divisive and controversial president in memory, with the lowest approval rating of any new President.

After a Populist campaigning focusing on the “threat” that foreigners pose to the United States, his victory on November 8th signalled an era of uncertainty for ethnic minorities, especially Muslims. Calls to Naseeha, a Muslim Youth helpline in Canada, soared after the election, with many concerned Muslim American citizens calling worried about the statements that Trump had made and what the future entailed for them.

Trump has made numerous highly worrying statements, such as that there should be a register for Muslims in America, a policy strongly reminiscent of that in in Nazi Germany which represented the first step in barring Jews from certain positions and eventually disenfranchising them completely.

Having stated prior to the election, that the US border should be temporarily closed to all Muslims until terrorism is at a more “manageable” level, one of his first policies was to ban nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries (notably none of the countries in which he has business interests), including US Green Card holders and refugees, from entering the US.

Reactions to his actions and statements have been less than favourable. His “Muslim Ban” was deemed illegal and overturned by the Supreme Court, a ban which he is currently fighting. The Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has said that “American Muslims are here to stay. We are not going anywhere, and will not be intimidated or marginalised.” In the UK, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has said that Trump must “Do everything in his power to unite people and bring divided communities back together”. And in an unprecedented move, the Speaker of the House of Commons stated that Trump would not be allowed to speak in parliament.

Many businesses have openly defied his plans, with Starbucks pledging to hire 10,000 refugees, many people boycotting his hotels and businesses, and even America as a tourist destination and many tech companies, who recruit largely outside of the US, voicing strong opposition and stating they will need to move if his plans are enacted.

At a grassroots level, protests and marches against Trump are on the increase. The women’s marches that took place across America and around the world the day after Trump’s inauguration have been transformed from a one-day event to an activist movment.  There is now a Twitter hashtag #WomensMarchWednesday where people from around the world are able to discuss activism and support each other. In the UK there are a series of protests planned in the lead up to his visit of the UK on the 20 March.

But regardless of whether Trump is able to put these plans into place, the danger he poses goes beyond this. The fact that the world’s most important leader now routinely makes racist, anti-Islamic statements is enough to create serious problems, not just in the United States, but globally.

Since Trump’s stance on refugees, opinion polls show that most Europeans – including 47% of Britons – want a ban on refugees from Muslim-majority counties. And this sentiment has even affected the views of our government, yesterday it was announced that the UK will no longer be taking unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.

Across Europe, the extreme right, which had been growing in recent years, is becoming emboldened by a world leader who effectively legitimises their views. Far-right attacks in the UK and much of continental Europe are on the rise, and the 30 of January saw the extreme culmination of what this racist rhetoric can lead to when Canadian citizen and avid Trump supporter, Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire in a Mosque in Quebec killing 6 and injuring 10 more.

While, of course, Trump’s rhetoric cannot be blamed for the actions of an individual, they do create a climate in which people who hold such ideas feel supported and feel that their actions are justified.

The “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” Trump wants cannot happen. As we are seeing, whatever he says affects the views of political leaders and citizens across the globe, an issue which is especially worrying with the current wave of right-wing sentiment sweeping Europe.

The US must not further create division across the world by creating the impression that all Muslims are terrorists or criminals. The US has always been an example of multicultural unity and it would be a shame for other countries to be influenced by the anti-immigration rhetoric in the US at the moment.

However bleak the situation seems, there is a case for optimism. In the wake of his election, millions of people marched for equality and solidarity with all women, rejecting Trump’s hatred and bigotry. Many marched against the election of Donald Trump because they believe that his administration puts into doubt the protection of women’s rights. Most admirably, women across the world for varied rights and in support of those they felt would be most affected by Trump’s presidency – there were around 600 rallies altogether worldwide. There were marches in Nairobi for reproductive rights. There were marches in India against sexual harassment. Many men also marched in solidarity. The image above, of a woman in a hijab decorated in the American flag, exemplifies the message of the protests – how being Muslim and American are not mutually exclusive but that Muslim women are a part of American society and as such should be fully accepted and welcomed.

JAN Trust hopes to allay Muslim women’s fear of xenophobia across the world by providing a safe space for them to integrate within British society. To find out more go to http://jantrust.org/.

Posted in Campaign, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Far right, Hate Crime, hijab, International, International Affairs, islamophobia, Middle East, Muslim, Muslim dress, Muslim women, Politics, Racism, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Internet Safety Day – let’s commit to defending our families

It’s Internet Safety Day today and I can’t stress just how important it is for parents to be aware of what their kids are looking at online. All teenagers crave their personal space and so we have to approach this with tact and diplomacy. But there are well-recognised warning signs when your son or daughter is being groomed online by extremists or worse, terrorists.

This isn’t about parents smothering their children with too much attention or feeling excluded from their children’s lives. It’s about the reality of groups like Daesh and Al Qaeda targeting teens with some pretty horrific material. Recent output from these groups in English and other languages has included guides to carrying out bomb attacks, knifings and kidnappings.

Alongside the text are diagrams going into explicit detail of where to plunge the knife or how to send a letter bomb. All of this presented as if committing a terror act was the most natural thing in the world. One can only imagine the impact this could have on an impressionable or highly disturbed mind. In fact, one doesn’t have to imagine it – a string of recent atrocities should have made the risk crystal clear to all of us.

As Daesh faces defeat for its so-called “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, it’s gone into hyper-drive on social media, urging anybody to carry out brutal attacks in its name. This shows us what’s particularly dangerous about our new digital world – that terror groups can not only spread their message, but also remotely direct and guide individuals to perpetrate murder –  sometimes on a massive scale as we saw in Nice and Orlando.

So how does online radicalisation happen? Recent court trials have evidenced in detail how young people are sucked into social media support networks, where they are given a sense of being and a globalised terrorist identity. They are often contacted via Twitter then drawn into the darker corners of the web, encrypted spaces where conversations are harder to monitor. There is no single route to being radicalised online but there are some very well worn paths.

Frighteningly, we’ve seen teenagers engaged in direct conversations with a charismatic Daesh killer in Syria or Iraq who will give them easy answers to life’s problems. Their young targets are presented with a binary choice between the world of disbelief and that of Daesh with its twisted and corrupt version of Islam. This has proven very seductive to some young men and women because they don’t hear alternative and corrective viewpoints. Instead of turning to parents, teachers and faith leaders for guidance, they listen to their Daesh handler online or the rants of extremist hate preachers on YouTube.

The internet should be about spreading wisdom, but instead it has disseminated fake news and totalitarian ideologies. It has risked polarising young people with the toxic combination of both Far Right and Islamic terrorist material. Both of these forms of extremism relish an end to compromise and reasoned debate. The vicious slanging matches and supremacist insults on social media are their natural form of debate. Neo-fascists and Islamic terrorists are not interested in using the online space to educate and inform, to them it’s about forming battle lines and hardening attitudes. We simply can’t let that happen.

For those of us who still believe in truth and honesty, these can seem like grim times. But this is why Web Guardians© runs such valued sessions, so we can come together to defend those we love from lies and hate-filled violence. In our school playgrounds and university coffee bars, there are people being deceived by online demagogues or watching indescribably brutal executions and slaughter circulated by the Daesh PR machine.

We’ve endured this situation for a long time but also learned how to contain it and push back against the hatemongers. On this Internet Safety Day, let’s commit once more to protecting our families and neighbourhoods from poisonous views. We all cherish free speech and democracy. But we need to recognise those who are using the power of social media to wreck lives and set us against each other.

For more information and to know what you can do – come and attend one of our Web Guardians© sessions.

Sajda Mughal

Jan Trust

 

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