My internship with JAN Trust

In the middle of June, I began my 6-week internship with at JAN Trust. With a role that was quite broad, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was excited to dive in and soak up any experience I could

With a fresh English Literature degree in the bag, I was ready to start exploring what the “real” adult world had in store for me. During my time at university, I had taken an interest in charity and volunteering, and working within the charity sector was something I was interested in. Therefore, I was over the moon when I was successful in securing the internship at JAN Trust.

I didn’t know much about how a charity is run, and I did not know a lot about the sector and small NGOs. During my time at JAN Trust, I have had a varied set of tasks, which has given me an insight into how the charity is run. I have helped out with social media, blogs, fundraising, liaising with stakeholders, research, and much more. Through doing these different tasks, I have gained a deeper understanding of how difficult it is to run a small NGO. One thing that particularly strikes me is the passion and drive that is needed from all the employees to keep the charity running smoothly. With a small team, workloads can get quite heavy, and it is essential that everyone does their part. Sajda, the CEO of JAN Trust, has amazed me again and again with her passion and all the hard work she does for the charity. It is inspirational to be surrounded by people who care about making a difference, and who work hard every day to do so.

Through this internship I have been able to develop my skills in terms of time management, writing skills, communication skills, creativity and much more. As I said, my tasks have been quite varied, and as such I have been able to develop and grow in different ways. I have learnt how to write official and formal letters, how to run a social media account for an organisation, and recording information. I have also had some great colleagues, who have supported me and helped me develop as an employee.

Above all, I am very happy to have had an internship where I have felt like I have truly made a difference. I have been able to do work that I know will ultimately help people, and help make our society a better place for everyone. Considering the current situation in the world, one can easily feel hopeless, apathetic and powerless in creating change. Through my internship, I have at least made a small contribution towards making the world a better place, in terms of fighting online radicalisation, violence against women and girls, and hate crime.

At JAN Trust, they work every day to ensure that vulnerable and disadvantaged women can be happy and productive members of society, and I am so pleased to have been even a small part of that.

If you are interested in working in the charity sector, I strongly urge you to consider JAN Trust as your starting point. Either as a volunteer or an intern, there is much insight to gain from working with them. I leave JAN Trust with a wealth of new experience and an even stronger wish to work in the charity sector in the future.

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Posted in Hate Crime, JAN Trust, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Sajda Mughal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Barcelona and the evolution of terrorism: how do we stop a terror attack when vehicles are used?

The Barcelona terrorist attack three weeks ago was horrifying. It left 13 dead and over 100 people injured. The weapon of choice? A van.

A ‘vehicle-ramming attack’ is one of the stealthiest forms of terror attacks due to the difficulty of its prevention. Those who are planning to carry out an attack using this militant tactic do not require the resources or skills needed to create a bomb. All that is needed is a driving licence, and access to a car.

This year alone there have been ten vehicle-ramming attacks globally. In the UK there have been three terror attacks that have involved the use of a vehicle: the Westminster, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park attack. It is an unsophisticated tactic compared to the creation of bombs. These vehicle attacks are also linked to the rise of home-grown terrorists, as access to a vehicle is easier if you are a citizen of the nation. The accessibility of gaining a vehicle has meant that it has appealed to ISIS recruiters. In September 2014, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani issued a call to kill non-believers using any resources available: “[S]ingle out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of his allies,” he said. “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.” BBC Inside Out reporters went undercover as young British Muslims interested in carrying out an attack, and were directed to an online terrorist manual on the dark web by recruiters, which specifically explained how to carry out an attack using a vehicle. This shows the indiscriminate nature to which these militant tactics are being encouraged. Young people can easily be led astray by recruiters through social media and communication networks who glorify martyrdom, goading new recruits with the chance of achieving paradise in the after-life.

Governments have attempted to prevent further attacks through the use of vehicles. Security bollards have been added to areas, specifically at festivals and large gatherings, such as most recently, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Notting Hill Carnival. These are probably the most practicable prevention for crowded areas. Barriers have been erected on popular bridges in central London, protecting pedestrians from any cars that could drive onto the pavement in an attempt to target civilians.

The recent ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought together a plethora of far-right groups, neo-Nazis and racists, as well as many counter protestors. As tensions escalated, a neo-Nazi James Alex Fields drove his car at full speed into a group of counter protestors, killing 32 year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19. This is a tragic reminder that the threat of terrorism and van attacks come from both Islamist and far-right extremists.

There are plans in the UK in place to make British drivers face tougher vehicle hire checks by cross-checking against a terror watch list. Westminster attacker Khalid Masood had hired a 4×4, whilst Khuram Butt, the leader of the London Bridge attack, had hired a large white van. The problem with this is that hiring a vehicle garners very little suspicion. Some suggest making cities car-free in order to extinguish the threat of vehicles as a weapon altogether. However these tactics can only do so much to help protect citizens.

This evolution of terrorist attacks has further shown the importance of our award winning Web Guardians™ programme. One of the only ways to prevent potential terror attacks like vehicle-ramming attacks is to find out the root cause of radicalisation. Social media companies need to take an active role in weeding out extremist content, as videos, posts and other forms of propaganda can quickly go viral, and can have a lot of influence. Communication through encrypted networks can be extremely difficult to infiltrate.

With our highly acclaimed Web Guardians™ programme, we encourage, educate and empower mothers to prevent their loved ones from becoming victims to the dangers of online extremism.

Unfortunately there is no way to make areas completely safe from this modern form of terrorism. Such attacks have created a lot of fear in society, with people fearing for their safety and increasing xenophobic feelings towards others. People should not have to adapt their lives in order to avoid the threat of terrorism, and minorities should not take the brunt of people’s fears. We at JAN Trust can only hope that preventative measures are put in place, and that counter-extremism programmes like our Web Guardians™ programme find sustainable support in order to help prevent the roots of radicalisation taking place.

Posted in Crime, Daesh, Extremism, Inclusion, International, International Affairs, ISIS, Islam, JAN Trust, Middle East, Muslim, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Sajda Mughal, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Web Guardians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grenfell Tower: for how long will we ignore society’s most vulnerable?

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In our society, it seems that some lives matter more than others. Vulnerable and disadvantaged people who have merely been born in the wrong place or situation suffer for circumstances they cannot control. When will we stop ignoring the parts our population that needs our help the most?

The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower is symptomatic of how our government is failing vulnerable people. It also highlighted the many problems within the social housing system in the UK. However, the underlying problem that Grenfell has highlighted is that disadvantaged people are increasingly made more disadvantaged by society. In Grenfell Tower, an estimated 80 people lost their lives because the building they lived in was not “worth” prioritising in terms of refurbishments and safety, and countless more have been displaced because their homes were destroyed. Funds allocated for refurbishment were used to install cladding across the building for purely aesthetic purposes, following multiple complaints from richer residents that the tower was a local eyesore, which due to the cladding’s flammable nature, catalysed the inferno that engulfed the building.

Many of the people who live in social housing are disadvantaged and vulnerable because of situations they cannot control. These are people such as refugees, immigrants, single parents, and people who are unemployed for various reasons. People who are in these groups are already struggling in many ways, and often face discrimination on several levels in society. In the case of social housing in Grenfell Tower, it boils down to the fact that not even their home – what is usually a safe haven for most – could protect them. The residents in Grenfell Tower were not safe in their homes because the appearance of the building’s exterior was prioritised over the safety of the interior.

For most residents of Grenfell, like other social housing estates, the only choice they have is social housing. This means that even if you know that your home is not safe, you have to choose between that or be homeless. Residents of Grenfell repeatedly reported safety issues, including electrical failures and the lack of fire sprinklers, but their pleas were ignored. Complaints from richer residents about the building’s appearance were prioritised, it appears. The government and councils in charge of providing safe social housing betrayed the people of Grenfell Tower.

Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn MP, wrote a public letter to Prime Minister Theresa May expressing his deep concern over the ‘decision to exclude broader social and political issues raised by the fire’ in the public inquiry, highlighting that it had ‘raised profound concerns about the way that social housing is provided and managed’. He stated that excluding these issues showed her ‘priority is to avoid criticism of your party’s policy failures rather than secure justice for Grenfell survivors’.

Of course, housing is only one of the areas in which people are let down by the government when they are in difficult situations. Education, employment and cultural participation are also other areas where disadvantaged people are deprived of the same experience and support as people who are better off. They seem to get less support, while they are the ones who need it the most.

At JAN Trust, we work to support disadvantaged women in our local community. We believe that all people, no matter their circumstances in life, deserve support and help to live safe and fulfilling lives. Therefore, we offer classes and other support to BAME and vulnerable women. Our consistent work has helped women leave abusive relationships, economically empower themselves, and become productive members of society. To learn more and support our work, visit www.jantrust.org

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Campaigning, Citizenship, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, JAN Trust, London, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, Representation, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Far-right extremism: Europe has seen this before, the time to act is now.

This past weekend, far-right activists and counter-protesters clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia in the US. The protests escalated and one of the far-right protesters drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, leaving 1 dead and 19 injured. The man has now been charged with murder.

The brutal murder of Heather Heyer, 32, which took place at a “Unite the Right” gathering, is just the latest disturbing proof that the far-right, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, should be considered a real threat. We often hear about Muslim extremists, but the media rarely covers the rise of far-right extremism to the same extent. The group in Charlottesville were planning to rally around a Confederate statue that the city council had planned to remove, claiming that its removal was “an effort to erase white history”. The number of attendees is estimated at between 500 and 1,000 people, making “Unite the Right” one of the largest gatherings of its kind in decades, bringing together a plethora of white nationalist groups for the first time.

While there are many terms for the far right hate groups that gathered in Charlottesville, they have one thing in common: they are often violently racist. If people do not band together to stop the far-right in their rapid advance, they will only grow stronger and more confident. It is widely known that a significant part of Trump’s supporters are known white supremacists. The fact that the US President failed to immediately denounce these groups by name shows how institutionalised this ideology has become. Rather, Donald Trump’s initial statement blamed ‘many sides’ for the violence. After two days of considerable political pressure, he conceded and specifically denounced white supremacy. The next day, however, he was back to blaming ‘both sides’, noting that on each side of the protest existed ‘very fine people’, and used the far-right term ‘alt-left’ to describe anti-racism counter protestors. Several white nationalists expressed their gratitude that Trump did not immediately condemn them. Former KKK leader, David Duke, wrote on Twitter: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa [Black Lives Matter/Anti-Fascists]”. This is clear evidence of how Trump’s position as president empowers the far-right.

When figures of authority, such as Trump, are hesitant to denounce the horrible actions and values that the far-right stand for, they will continue with impunity. Media coverage, and their move to unify fractured groups, helps their values and ideas gain traction. Studies show that young people in America are increasingly exposed to far-right extremist content online. All of these different factors, especially in the context of the country’s polarised political spectrum, contribute to the rising threat of the far-right.

These incidents, and the attitudes held by the people causing them, should set off alarm bells and flashing lights. These people are walking around in the streets with swastika-flags, shouting “Heil Trump!” and making Nazi-salutes. They are not hiding what they stand for. Yet, some people refuse to see how dangerous the far-right is becoming. They bury their heads in the sand and ignore the alarm bells. Have we already forgotten how Hitler rose to power and the horrible events that his rule brought about? Have we forgotten our responsibility as citizens and leaders to take on dangerous groups like these, who champion white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and hatred of anyone different from themselves?

At JAN Trust, we work tirelessly to fight radicalisation and attitudes like the ones expressed at “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville. We see daily the abuse that minorities and vulnerable people suffer, especially in terms of racism and Islamophobia. Our work aims to fight hate crime, online extremism, and to support vulnerable and minority women. Through the work we do, we are taking on our part of the responsibility in defeating attitudes like these – are you doing your part?

You can support our work and learn more by visiting www.jantrust.org

Posted in Citizenship, Crime, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, Hate Crime, islamophobia, Racism, Radicalisaton, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , ,

The Difficulty of Eradicating Forced Marriages

New figures released by the NSPCC reveal that there has been a 12% increase in counselling sessions about forced marriage in the previous year. Summer is often a high-risk period for potential victims of forced marriage, as many are lured away on “holidays” only to be married off abroad against their will. However, a shocking 11% of forced marriages in 2016 took place wholly in Britain, with no overseas element.

Forced marriage is a serious issue and one that is difficult to tackle. Many victims are too scared to report the forced marriage because it would mean isolation and estrangement from their family. In the same way, it is difficult for young victims to stand up to their parents in situations like these especially after forced marriage was made a criminal offence in Britain in 2014, one can imagine that children are hesitant to report their parents or close family because of the punishment they might face.

It is important to note that forced marriage often happen to children – 26% of victims in 2016 were under 18. These victims are especially vulnerable when coerced into marriage by their parents or close relatives, as they might not have anyone to turn to for help or support. By reporting their family members, they might fear that they will not have anywhere to live or feel that they are betraying their family.  This makes forced marriages hidden crimes, as victims do not often speak up before, during or after they happen. This makes them even harder to prevent, and difficult to obtain proper statistics.

Forced marriages are difficult to deal with for individuals, as they deprive a person of their freedom. Sometimes, this can also include the victim being taken away from their home country, being raped and girls being forced to bear children. In rural areas of Syria, forced and underage marriages are flourishing, as parents see them as a way to protect their children in a time of crisis. However, some of the marriages end in more than just deprivation of freedom. It has been found that some girls who are married off in Syria have become so unhappy because of their marriages that they have committed suicide. This clearly shows the psychological problems can result from a forced marriage, especially if the victim is young.

As mentioned, forced marriage is a difficult issue to handle, as it is so sensitive. One woman, New York-based Pakistani designer Nashra Balagamwala, is trying to approach the issue in a creative way. She is herself a potential victim of forced marriage, as she has grown up with parents and family members attempting to marry her off. Her solutions to avoid the marriages have been many, most recently she convinced her parents to let her study and work in the US for a few years. However, now that her visa is expiring, they are expecting her to come back and get married. But Balagamwala has no wish to do so, she describes herself as a “hopeless romantic” and has yet to meet “Mr. Right”. Like most people, she wants to keep her freedom of choice. In order to fund another visa application and highlight the issue of forced and arranged marriage, she has now designed a board game called “Arranged!” Perhaps it is creative solutions like this one – “Darkness masked in lightness” as Balagamwala says – that will help bring the issue to the attention of people who can make a difference.

At JAN Trust, we hold workshops for participants from affected communities, voluntary and statutory sectors including schools, police and healthcare professionals. These sessions are aimed at preventing forced marriages by making people aware of the issue and the signs they can look out for. By raising awareness and educating, we hope to help combat forced marriage and help potential victims keep their freedom. You can support our work and learn more by visiting www.jantrust.org and www.againstforcedmarriages.org.

Posted in british, child marriage, Crime, Ethnic Minorities, forced marriage, Forced Marriages, girls, JAN Trust, marriage, mental health, Syria, Uncategorized

On The Importance of Women

Women comprise about half of the world’s population. This half of the world is hugely important in community development, and in the local and global economy. Yet, society is not doing what needs to be done to empower women and unlock their full potential. At JAN Trust we do our best to empower, educate and encourage women, but we need your help to do more!

Globally, women play a huge role in community development. Throughout history, women’s central role as mothers, homemakers, labourers, and thinkers has ensured the development of nations around the world. Education is crucial to the progress of any community, and mothers are the ones who most often urge their children to attend and stay in school. In addition, educating women often leads to their children being more likely to achieve a higher level of education as well. Women who are educated are less likely to marry and have children early, and tend to bear fewer children. Global Volunteers point out that when there is a change in society “women take the lead in helping the family adjust to new realities and challenges.” This can be crucial in terms of avoiding stagnation or regression in a community when it is faced with a new political organisation of society.

Of course economy is also one of the most important factors in terms of community development. There is much research to show that empowering women will help lift both them and their communities out of poverty. As of 2010, women and girls comprised more than 70 percent of the world’s 1.4 billion poor people according to CARE International. When women and girls are trapped in poverty, so are their families and communities. Nearly 80% of the agricultural labour force in Africa is female – they are a huge economic resource. If these women were empowered and given the agricultural resources they lack, global hunger could be drastically reduced. In addition to this, a woman’s earning power increases by 10-30 percent for each year of education she receives. This shows once again that providing education for women results in a larger economic input into families and communities, strengthening community development.

Striving for gender equality and female empowerment is hugely important to be able to profit from the economic force that is women. Research has shown that companies with more women in senior management positions perform better and receive higher profits. It has also been proven that women make better investors than men. Yet many women around the world are still excluded from paid work and are not able to make full use of their skills. To boost economic growth, women must be empowered to partake in the global workforce and society must be structured in a way that will allow them to participate.

At JAN Trust, our work is premised on the vital role that women play in their communities. This is why we work with women every day, to educate, empower and encourage them. One of our recent projects to try and boost the economic independence of the vulnerable women we work with, is the “We Design Haringey” campaign. We are currently trying to raise money to provide Fashion & Design workshops to women in Haringey, as well as establishing a pop-up shop where they will be able to sell their products. Not only would this project help the women develop crucial skills, it would also help empower them economically. This in turn would contribute to the economic development of our local community of Haringey – the sixth most deprived borough in London.

In addition to this campaign, we run regular services and programmes at our centre and around London to empower marginalised women. One example is our highly praised Web Guardians™ programme, which aims to educate mothers on online extremism. After completing the programme they are armed with tools that will help them protect their children from being radicalised online. At our centre, we also offer a variety of classes including English language skills, and general life skills that empower women and give them a safe space to learn and develop.

To donate to “We Design Haringey” click here, and click here to learn more about our award-winning Web Guardians™ programme. For more information about our work click here.

Posted in Africa, british, child marriage, Citizenship, crowdfunding, Education, Forced Marriages, girls, Sajda Mughal, sewing and fashion, Uncategorized, women

What the headlines aren’t telling you about the BBC pay gap

By now, most people are aware of the shocking (but perhaps not surprising) gender pay gap among the top earners of the BBC. The numbers were released to the public last week, and damning headlines about the gender pay gap ensued. However, there is even more discrimination within the BBC than the headlines would have you believe. The pay gap faced by the BAME community is also large, but this is hardly the focus of most articles on the big reveal. Why is this, and how can the BAME community and society at large handle the challenges they face in terms of representation and equal pay?

First, let us review the disappointing numbers released by the BBC. Only 10 out of the 96 top-earners at the BBC were from a BAME background. The BBC’s top earner, Chris Evans, earned roughly the same amount as all of the BAME top earners combined! These numbers are perhaps shocking, but to charities such as JAN Trust who work to combat issues of racial discrimination and prejudice every day, it is no surprise. These numbers show clearly that BAME individuals remain excluded from the elite, and statistics from other research confirms this. People from BAME background account for only 6% of top management positions, despite making up 14% of the working-age population.

Diversity is hugely important in the workplace, and even more so in high profile organisations like the BBC. In our modern society, who we see on TV and who we have in the background of entertainment (such as screenwriters, directors, and crew) is hugely influential. Entertainment should be a reflection of society, and if the BBC does not represent society as it is, people will develop a skewed view of the world, one where minorities are invisible. Ultimately, viewers might find the real world difficult to deal with because it appears too different from the world they immerse themselves in through TV. Arguably, a lack of diversity in entertainment will ultimately result in a worldview where diversity seems unnatural, leading to prejudiced and racist attitudes.

In terms of representation, sticking to “tradition” is often more comfortable and safe than to venture into the uncharted land of “diversity”. Reluctance to represent BAME individuals in popular entertainment can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle. Casting directors may be hesitant to increase diversity in entertainment over concerns that a break from tradition will reduce audience numbers. This results in no change ever taking place, because no one wants to take the first leap. More diversity within the entertainment industry will be a progressive step towards representing multiculturalism in society.

When even the headlines hesitate to call the BBC out for its lack of diversity, it is apparent that we still have a long way to go. Of course, the gender pay gap is also an important issue to highlight, but the fight for one type of equality should never overshadow another.

See more about the work we do empowering BAMER women and supporting diversity on our website http://www.jantrust.org.

Posted in Uncategorized

Acid Attacks in Britain: A Weapon of Terror

Two Muslim cousins, enjoying 21st birthday celebrations, had their lives irrevocably changed on June 21st after becoming disfigured in an acid attack in East London. Sparking a nationwide debate, the rise of acid attacks in the UK is now under the spotlight.

Jameel Mukhtar and Resham Khan were on their way out to celebrate Resham’s 21st birthday. As they were waiting at a traffic light in East London, a stranger knocked on their window and then proceeded to throw acid across them both. The attack on the two Muslim cousins is being treated as a hate crime.

Resham, who was hoping to begin a career as a model, has written a letter to the public from hospital, alongside a petition, calling for tougher restrictions over purchasing corrosive substances, which can currently be bought and carried legally. Her letter asks:

“Why are acids the new street weapon? Because corrosive substances are readily available in-store and online for as little as £6.50 and the laws surrounding possession is loose.”

Since 2010, almost 2,000 acid attacks have been reported in London alone. Almost a third of these attacks occurred in the borough of Newham, east London. The majority of these cases have not led to trial, with 74% of cases being shelved due to victims being unable to identify perpetrators.

On  July 13th, five attacks were carried out in succession across London by young boys on stolen mopeds. Some of victims were delivery drivers on mopeds, prompting a protest from drivers across the workforce. Delivery drivers are targets of regular motor-vehicle robberies, which are increasingly involving acid attacks which aim to debilitate victims.

Across the world, victims of acid attacks are disproportionately female, often carried out by partners or ex-partners, or even family members in cases of ‘honour’ based violence. However, in the UK both the perpetrators and victims are mostly young men. Experts have suggested one reason for the increase has been tougher regulations on the availability of guns and knives, making acid an attractive and easily available alternative.

In order to stop these attacks, people are calling for stricter laws and regulations when it comes to buying and possessing acid. One solution would be to upgrade acid to a restricted substance, meaning a licence is required for purchase.  The police have been provided with rapid response kits in order to be able to treat victims of attacks as quickly as possible at the scene of the crime.

While not all the victims are Muslim, in wake of these attacks, particularly that on the aforementioned Jameel Muhktar and Resham Khan, many Muslims have expressed fear at being in public or event leaving their house, specifically in east London.

This comes at a time of increasing Islamophobia and reports of incidents of hate crime in the wake of both the Brexit referendum and the terrorist attacks that occurred within quick succession this year. Tell MAMA found that racist incidents increased 530% in the week following the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert, and reported a 240% increase in anti-Muslim hate in the seven-day period following the London Bridge attack on June 3.

Last weekend, in Southampton, two Muslim women were victims of a “spoof” acid attack in which they were sprayed with water. This suggests some attacks are being used to incite terror within the Muslim community and prevent them from feeling safe or accepted within society.

Many on social media have highlighted that if these attacks, such as the five attacks carried out on July 13th, were perpetrated by Muslims on white passers-by, the media reaction would have been internationally sensationalised, and they would have immediately been declared as terrorist incidents.

Jameel Mukhtar has himself addressed this issue on Channel 4 News, saying:

“If this was an Asian guy like myself, going up to an English couple in a car and acid attacking them, I know for a fact,and the whole country knows, that it would be classed as a terror attack,”

Although the attack is being investigated as a hate crime, little attention has been drawn to the extremist motivations of this attack. The perpetrator, 24 year old John Tomlin, had previously made posts expressing solidarity with far-right extremists on Facebook. These include posts shared in 2015 that say: “A sleeping lion can only be provoked so much before it wakes up and attacks…and so will us British,” and “We will stand and we will fight. We will reclaim what is rightfully ours. We will not surrender.”

At JAN Trust, we run an online support tool www.saynotohatecrime.org that provides victims a direct link to report crimes, and gives recovery advice alongside access to support networks. As long time campaigners against Islamophobia and violence against women and girls, we offer advice and support to anyone suffering in silence.

We also work hard to highlight the underestimated rise in extremism including far right extremism, and our award winning Web Guardians™ program provides families with the skills to safeguard loved ones from exposure to extremist propaganda. Our vision is to expand this program across the country, alongside our school outreach workshops, in order to stamp out radicalisation in all forms which often motivates these terrorising attacks involving acid.

Posted in Advocacy, british, Campaign, Campaigning, Crime, discrimination, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, girls, Hate Crime, Inclusion, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Muslim dress, Muslim women, National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Online abuse, Online hate, police, Politics, Racism, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Representation, Society, South Asian, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Online extremism – saving the next generation, by Nazir Afzal OBE

By Nazir Afzal OBE

Empowering women to be active members of society is essential to building resilient communities. By unleashing the potential marginalised women can offer through education and training we can ensure women are integrated and valued members of society.

In my own career as a prosecutor, I have spent decades working to defend women from violence and injustice, giving me insight into the vast range of difficulties faced by women, and the best strategies to tackle them.

In the aftermath of four horrifying terror attacks in quick succession, the UK needs to do all it can to tackle extremism from its roots. One of the best ways to do this is by putting women at the heart of counter-terrorism.

As anchors within the family, mothers have a unique insight into the activities of their family members, and therefore the ability to safeguard their children and protect them from the dangers of online radicalisation.

Too many families have been torn apart through extremism. The pain of those who have lost loved ones in terrorist incidents, including the families of attackers, is immeasurable.

Collina, mother of Youssef Zaghba, one of the London Bridge attackers, expressed her sadness and regret that she had not been able to do more to prevent his radicalisation.

In an interview with Italy’s L’Espresso magazine she said that she “always kept track of his friends and made sure he didn’t fall in with the wrong people, but he had Internet and that’s where everything comes from”. She added he tried to go to Syria after being fed a “fantasy that was transmitted by the internet”.

This shows us the vital need for the mothers to be educated on how to combat the signs of online radicalisation. The work of JAN Trust’s unique Web Guardians™ programme, educates and empowers mothers to prevent and tackle extremism and online radicalisation effectively protecting them from this issue. It has been exceptional in tapping into the potential of mothers.

Before the launch of their programme in 2010, JAN Trust’s consultation within the community unveiled that 93% of Muslim women lacked IT skills and 92% did not know what online radicalisation was.

During my career I have learned that government counter radicalisation programmes, such as Prevent, can prove successful, but only to an extent. Community schemes get the best results, as they develop using community consultation, building trust, and have the ability to adapt strategies to the specific needs of an area. Therefore, it is essential that we work with the Muslim community to tackle radicalisation, rather than against them.

JAN Trust, who have been working from within the Muslim community for decades, have delivered their Web Guardians™ programme near to a thousand Muslim women, but at present do not have funding to continue and expand this much needed programme.

Without the programme being delivered, children will remain vulnerable to being radicalised online. I hope the government recognises the individual approach of JAN Trust and the successes of its work.

Posted in british, Crime, Daesh, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, ISIS, Online hate, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Society, Syria, Terrorism, Uncategorized, women

Recent UK terrorist attacks spark hate crime

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The recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London have sparked more than the coming together of communities. They have also led to an increase in hate crime, and specifically Islamophobic hate crimes.

After the Manchester attack on the 22nd of May, social media was flooded with messages of hope and community, many under the hashtag #WeStandTogether. Unfortunately, these messages of help and comfort are not the only ones that surface after an attack like this. Hateful utterances also find their way online. However, the Muslim community had to deal with more than a few hateful utterances on social media after the attack.

In the days after the attack, there was a measurable spike of hate incidents reported. These incidents included things such as verbal abuse, spitting, and headscarves being pulled from the heads of Muslim women. These attacks on individuals are often accompanied by attacks against communities, such as the arsonist attack on the Oldham mosque in Manchester.

The same spike in hate crimes was seen after the London Bridge attack on 3rd of June. In the week after the attack, Islamophobic attacks increased fivefold and in general there was a 40% increase in racist incidents. Compared to the rise in hate crimes after the Brexit vote last year, these post-terror crimes are more focused towards Muslim communities. Like the incidents reported after the Manchester attacks, these crimes included online abuse, threats, assaults, and physical abuse. As in Manchester, London mosques have also experienced vandalism.  In one case, The Sutton Islamic centre in south London was graffitied with the words: “Terrorise your own country”.

This shows a clear trend. However, the real question is why? Why does hate crime spike after terrorist attacks like the one in Manchester and on London Bridge?

Of course, the obvious answer is prejudice and racism. The people who carry out these hate crimes are unable to separate religious extremists from the common religious follower. There is also the concern that sections of the media manufacture stories and create sensationalist articles that are not based on facts that play into this view. Additionally, over the last few years, Western countries have seen a rise in far-right extremism, which also contributes to these views being spread and adopted by others.

Hate crime is a serious issue, and these spikes are concerning. JAN Trust works to raise awareness of hate crime through our programme Say No To Hate Crime. We also take steps to prevent hate crimes, particularly against refugee, asylum-seeking, and Muslim women. We offer a safe environment for women to voice their concerns and to seek support. On our website you can learn more and make a report if you or someone you know has been subjected to a hate crime.

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