Islamophobia is insidious – what can we do to stop it?

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Islamophobia is on the rise in the UK, especially since the 2017 terrorist attacks.

As of late, an inquiry has been called as there have been allegations of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. There have been multiple cases such as Conservative MP for Harrow East, Bob Blackman who shared a link from an anti-Muslim US website and retweeted Tommy Robinson. David Boston, running for councillor in Enfield, was suspended days before the local elections this year for posting an image of bacon hanging from a door handle with the caption ‘Protect your house from terrorism. Stay safe lads.’ Baroness Warsi, a Conservative peer, has spoken out against the Conservative Party’s lack of action and has stated that “it’s burying its head in the sand and now unfortunately it’s playing out in a very embarrassing way.”

Anti-Muslim hatred is growing in the UK and it is extremely worrying. The media has had a large role to play in influencing this divisive mindset. Facts have been distorted, and anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric has merged into Islamophobia. Hatred had been legitimised, especially since the Brexit referendum, which became a chance for those against immigration to make their voice heard.

Anti-Muslim hatred is not just symbolic. It has seeped into Muslim communities and affected their everyday lives. Between 2016 and 2017, religious hate crimes increased by 35 per cent. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of hate crimes directed at mosques more than doubled. A Government report last year by the Social Mobility Commission found that only 19.8% of Muslims (1 in 5) aged 16-74 were in full-time employment, compared to 45% of the population as a whole. Barriers that they face include stereotyping, minority ethnic-sounding names reduce the likelihood of people being offered an interview, and harassment. Young Muslims have also reported having to work “10 times as hard” to get on. Women with headscarves, which includes many of our beneficiaries, had specific discrimination when entering the workplace.

Far-right extremism is on the rise, in response to hatred against the Muslim community and Islam. The #FreeTommy campaign, a campaign to release extremist Tommy Robinson from prison for contempt of court, is dangerous as it legitimises freedom of expression to the extent that it may discriminate against minority communities. There are many new Far-right groups emerging, such as Generation Identity, which believes that Europe is being ‘Islamised.’ Some groups are preparing for a ‘war against Islam’, such as the banned group National Action. These groups are becoming more and more popular. These discriminatory views against Muslims, and other minorities, are being more and more commonplace, and that is extremely worrying in a society in which British values preach tolerance and acceptance.

Three million Muslims live in the UK. That is less than 5% of the overall population. Yet the media and rhetoric has created the image that Muslims are taking over the country. This is unacceptable, and as a charity that caters largely to Muslim women we find it abhorrent that these women suffer Islamophobic abuse.

What can we do to stop it? The Integrated Communities Strategy green paper, released this year, noted that levels of English amongst the Muslim population are lower than the general population. Integration of Muslim communities has been seen as an issue by the British government. However, funding for ESOL has fallen by over 50% since 2009. This is funding that charities, such as JAN Trust, rely on, in order to integrate beneficiaries into British society. Therefore, hatred of Muslims has been exaggerated by the lack of action on the part of the government to integrate Muslim communities and to emphasise the benefits of multiculturalism.

At JAN Trust we aim to keep speaking out about Islamophobia and raising awareness of the issue. Islamophobia must be equated with anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination. If you see an Islamophobic incident, please do not stay silent and please report it to the police. The more the police become aware of the issue of Islamophobia, the more chance there is that it can be tackled.

To find out more about the work we do, visit www.jantrust.org.

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Posted in british, Campaign, Campaigning, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Far right, Hate Crime, hijab, Inclusion, ISIS, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, Jihadi Brides, Muslim, Muslim women, Racism, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7/7 Survivor and Charity CEO Calls for Urgent Independent Review of Prevent Strategy

Survivor of the 7/7 London terrorist attacks and CEO of leading women’s charity, JAN Trust, Sajda Mughal OBE is calling upon the Home Office to urgently commission an independent review to its counter-terrorism strategy, known as Prevent.

Mughal was travelling to work on a Piccadilly line train when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb, killing 26 people and injuring more than 340. She said: “Ten seconds after it left King’s Cross there was a boom. It came to a standstill and lights went out. There was thick smoke filling the carriage. I thought, ‘This is it. This is the day that I die.’” She suffered flashbacks after the attack and needed time off work as head of graduate recruitment at an investment bank. She said she was deeply perturbed that the attacks had been carried out by members of the Muslim community.

This motivated her to join JAN Trust, which encourages integration and educates Muslim mothers to help combat radicalisation. Since 7/7 Mughal has dedicated her life to combatting extremism in her own community. Through the JAN Trust, Mughal has been working with Prevent for the last 13 years, founding Web Guardians™, which works with mothers and women, providing them with the skills, education and confidence to prevent online extremism in their families and community.

Despite this, in June of this year, the Home Office decided to unceremoniously withdraw funding for the project, after months of false promises that funding would continue for this valued programme.

Mughal regards herself a ‘critical friend’ of Prevent and the Home Office, but feels this criticism, has penalised her and the charity, because she challenged, both publicly and privately the processes which have drawn wider criticism, including at a meeting in February last year in which Mughal spoke out about the lack of community relationships of some of the Prevent co-ordinators. Mughal says that she had been warned a number of times after publicly raising concerns that the “drawbridge” could be closed for future funding.

She is now calling for an independent review of the strategy, in light of the major concerns she holds regarding the lack of transparency in the programme. Prevent operates under a suspicious veil of secrecy. They have never published criteria for contractors or benchmarks for success; partnerships are not encouraged, and projects are not disclosed; profit-making companies are ‘parachuted’ into communities which they do not understand, with ‘flash in the pan’ projects rather than long term community solutions. This is at odds with the governments new contest strategy which stresses the need to meet local community needs through civil society organisations.

Furthermore, Mughal notes the unrest and lack of trust for the programme held by the Muslim community, and how the strategy has become a ‘toxic brand’. The programme is alienating Muslim communities, and removing them from the conversation. Mughal has said the Prevent programme is viewed with suspicion and mistrust by Muslim communities, which saddens her because she is a strong supporter of the programme which she considers, has the potential to be a success.

 Mughal states there is “push back” in communities against the programme who feel they are being “talked at”.  The terror attacks last year in Manchester, London Bridge and Parsons Green show the challenges the programme faces and Mughal believes it is seriously failing.  Children are not being encouraged by parents to discuss their views openly in schools because of concerns of getting a “knock on the door” from the authorities and there is mistrust because the Muslim community considers it is being targeted, rather than encouraged to take a more collaborative approach.

Mughal believes the appointment of Sara Khan as head of the Commission for Countering Extremism was counter-productive, because she was viewed as a divisive figure and ‘mouthpiece of the Home Office’. Despite attempts to address these concerns and talk to Sara Khan, including reaching out to her publicly on Social Media on 31st May, she has had no response from the commissioner. Khan hasn’t reached out to Sajda since her introduction to the role at the beginning of this year, even though she knows of her and JAN Trust’s work in countering extremism.

“If Sara is serious in tackling extremism as the commissioner then she would have reached out to me by now. There is no point in her stating in public communication that she will reach out to victims and experts in this field if she is not going to commit to her word and do exactly that. The question is, why has she not reached out to me or my NGO? She has had ample time to do so. Surely in her remit she would welcome discussion and debate?”

Posted in Campaign, Campaigning, Citizenship, crowdfunding, Daesh, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, girls, Hate Crime, Inclusion, Iraq, ISIS, Islam, islamophobia, London, Muslim, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Sajda Mughal, Society, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Web Guardians, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Do not let Trump’s policy become the norm

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The US president will travel to the UK on Friday, the 13th of July. Despite concerns about Donald Trump’s controversial policies, the state visit will go ahead as planned. Trump is due to meet Theresa May and the Queen. He will also visit Scotland. Huge protests have been organised for London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Theresa May invited Donald Trump when she met him shortly after his inauguration in 2017. Although the US and the UK are close allies, there has been much resentment about the upcoming visit. Voices have become louder, saying Trump should not be given a state visit.  Almost 1.9 million people have signed a petition, raising concerns that Trump could embarrass the Queen and should therefore not be allowed to visit the UK, as well as protests against his discriminatory views.

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said that the US president was not welcomed in the capital. Khan justified his position with Trump’s divisive agenda. Besides meeting the British Prime Minister Trump will be greeted by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. The Queen has met several US presidents before, but no other meeting faced so much opposition as the upcoming meeting with Donald Trump.

Why does Trump’s visit spark so much criticism?

Trump’s policies, moreover his entire administration have been heavily criticised since his inauguration. Donald Trump did not impress by a deliberate agenda. Rather, he continues to spread false information and openly expresses his misogynist and racist views.

The US administration has been under pressure to end its family separation policy on the Mexican border. In order to “make America great again” Trump vowed to stop illegal border crossings. His zero tolerance policy split families as children have been placed in detention centres while parents are facing criminal prosecution. Between the 5th of May and the 9th of June 2,342 children have been separated from their parents. Trump: “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally – which should happen – you have to take the children away.” He further blamed Democrats for the separation policy. But as a matter of fact no law has been passed by US Congress demanding the separation of families. The policy was introduced by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Donald Trump signed a new executive order on the 20th of June, which is supposed to end family separation. However thousands of children are still held in detention centres and have not been reunited with their families. Democrats and human rights activists are highly concerned, because separation could have a traumatising impact on the detained children. Officials claim that children younger than four years old would not be separated from their parents, but non-profit organisations say that babies and toddlers under three have been separated as well. Reporters and lawmakers, who were allowed to visit some of centres, were shocked that minors were held in cages. Referring to Trump’s zero tolerance policy Senator Jeff Merkley said, “They call it zero-tolerance, but a better name for it is zero-humanity. And there is zero logic to this.”

Trump’s policies have been subject of extensive criticism in the UK as well. Labour lawmaker Gavin Shuker told Theresa May: “President Trump has locked up 2,000 little children in cages and is refusing to release them unless he is allowed to build a wall, he has quit the United Nations Human Rights Council, he has praised Kim Jong Un’s treatment of his own people and he has turned away Muslims. What does this man have to do to have the invitation that the prime minister has extended revoked?”

May described Trump’s family separation policy as wrong and deeply disturbing. She said that the UK does not agree with Trump’s agenda but also emphasised the longstanding relationship with the United States whilst pointing out that she will discuss several issues with President Trump.

JAN Trust VS Trump

JAN Trust strongly condemns the separation of families. We believe that families, seeking asylum, should be kept together. We are highly concerned about the health and wellbeing of minors, which are currently being detained as a result of Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy. We know how important family is, working to empower and integrate women from the BAMER community. The stress that has been put on mothers and their children is unbearable.

We encourage peaceful protests on Friday, because Trump’s policies are cruel and humiliating.

We cannot turn cruelty into virtue. Donald Trump is spreading Islamophobic hate. His racist agenda is increasingly being normalised with neo Nazi groups marching in London and elsewhere. Racists feel encouraged because the political discourse supports their views.

Now is the time to speak up and stand in solidarity with Muslims, refugees, women and all others, who are being targeted. Trump’s agenda cannot become the norm!

Posted in Active citizenship, Campaign, Campaigning, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, International, International Affairs, Lobbying, London, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, Representation, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Nazi-free’ timelines should leave Non-Germans asking questions…

 

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Author and columnist Virginia Heffernan tweeted this in December. A tweet, which subsequently went viral:

In her tweet, Heffernan was drawing attention to the sheer amount of far-right and Nazi- sympathising accounts on the social media site. It is true that you can log on and see scores and scores of hate-filled posts and targeted abuse towards minority groups which have not been taken down.

There are many ways that these far-right accounts ‘subtly’ identify themselves, such as with images of Pepe the frog, an image which is now regarded as a symbol of hatred. To the untrained eye these accounts may go undetected if their posts don’t reveal their inclinations first. However, the more you know about the nuances of far-right memes, inside jokes and linguistic signifiers you begin to see just how widespread the community is.

It is no secret that social media sites such as Twitter have been under fire for not cracking down on online abuse hard enough and there has been significant pressure put on those companies to remove the perpetrators faster. However, the UK crackdown hasn’t been as swift or as hard-line as the German response to the problem.

Germany has some of the world’s toughest laws on hate speech including defamation, incitement to commit crimes and threats of violence. Social media giants can now expect the imposition of fines of up to 50 million euros for failing to remove hate speech promptly. This has meant that those companies have been scrambling to get their sites in order and hatred-free so as not to feel the weight of potential loss of profits. In fact, Facebook hired hundreds of new workers based in Essen, Germany, to grapple with the workload the new legislation requires.

Virginia Heffernan’s viral tweet brought attention to not only the amount of far-right accounts on her timeline, but also reiterated a clever social media hack – just reset your country and profile location on your Twitter account to somewhere in Germany and a large proportion of those accounts will disappear off your timeline. The accounts will still exist on the site, however you will be notified that the account has been ‘withheld in (country)’ Although the algorithm doesn’t ensure 100% far-right removal, it does noticeably decrease numbers.

Harriet

For a while Twitter seemed to be staving off criticism regarding their sloth-like tackling of online hate speech by insinuating that they were trying their best, but ultimately the popularity and size of the platform made it difficult to regulate. It seems strange then, that actually, they are able to find, correctly identify and withhold various far-right accounts and regulate them accordingly.

The problem seemingly is solvable and not necessarily linked to a lack of resources. When companies such as Twitter are bound by a law with significant financial penalties – it seems that hate speech crackdowns can be achieved quite easilys.

If Twitter is able to regulate and restrict in this way, it can be argued that they should bear more personal responsibility for what is on their platform and not only care when it is contingent on certain laws and fines. The majority of people understand that inciting or allowing the incitement of racial/religious hatred isn’t right or good. People seem to understand that sentiment independent of specific, explicit prohibition and/or monetary loss; so why only do what is right in the face of repercussions and not enact it as a blanket policy to foster a safer online environment?

Freedom of expression is not an untouchable, sanctified entity where anything goes. Although some loud individuals may feel that they are entitled to their opinions and to express them however they so wish online, hate speech and inciting discrimination of minority groups is not a protected loophole within freedom of speech law. Inciting racial or religious hatred ultimately infringes upon the freedom of expression of communities who are being targeted.

The simple answer is that maybe these companies do not actually care, but pretend to care when financial penalization may occur. However, societal and user demands are progressing and the weight of public outcry is forcing change. It is time for social media companies to bear more of the responsibility in keeping people safe and free from discrimination – and not only because a country’s law mandates it.

JAN Trust’s pioneering Web Guardians™ programme is designed to spread awareness amongst mothers, families and communities about the dangers their young people may face online and how to safeguard them. Find out more here: https://jantrust.org/project/web-guardians/.

Posted in discrimination, Education, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, Hate Crime, International, International Affairs, islamophobia, JAN Trust, Online abuse, Online hate, Politics, Society, Terrorism, Twitter, Uncategorized, Web Guardians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One JAN Trust employee’s experience of Islamophobic hate speech

One of our employees was subject to anti-Islamic rhetoric whilst carrying out off-site research outside Westfield shopping centre in Stratford in March. Her story illustrates how normalised and ubiquitous anti-Islamic sentiment is and how much work still needs to be done to tackle Islamophobia in this country.

Earlier this year, I was working on an off-site research project for JAN Trust across London. On the 15th March, my colleague and I were outside Westfield shopping centre in Stratford speaking to visibly Muslim women. I had only been in the area for a couple of hours when a man approached me and interrupted my interview to ask me what I was doing. I replied, but asked him to leave so I could finish my work. He then stated, ‘You are biased, what about the people who suffer under Islam?’

I immediately felt uneasy and scared as he continued to stand right next to us, listening and waiting, in an intimidating manner. Being a young woman, this fear was magnified and I felt especially vulnerable.

He began to lecture me in an oratory style which implied to me this was rehearsed and a topic of great interest to him. He proceeded to state exceedingly anti-Islamic views including the hateful and utterly misguided view that it is the agenda of Islam to take over this country. He was getting louder and I felt panicked thinking about how I could get out of the situation and hoped no Muslims could hear his bigoted views.

He remained in the area for a few hours, watching us. He interrupted me again in a confrontational and increasingly intimidating manner, demanding that I speak to him and not ignore him. We left the area as I felt threatened and was worried that he would follow me and the situation could escalate.

It is important to note that there was an incident at Stratford train station in February, where a visibly Muslim woman was viciously verbally and physically assaulted. This was right next to the Westfield shopping centre, so you would think that the centre would prioritise tackling Islamophobic hate speech. However, when we contacted Westfield shopping centre to notify them of this issue their reply didn’t acknowledge the problem and merely deflected the issue. We have also tried to get in contact further to no avail.

The recent rise of Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims is something we at JAN Trust work every day to change. It is telling for me that I, a white non-Muslim woman working for this cause, was harassed by this man. If I experienced this targeted harassment, it only goes to show that the problem for visibly Muslim people is much, much worse. Muslims have long been telling us their stories about Islamophobia and hate speech and those voices need to be listened to, amplified and taken seriously.

It is frankly unacceptable that British Muslims currently live in this environment where bigotry and hatred towards them has been mainstreamed and normalised. Not only is it in the streets, but the British media pedals misrepresentative narratives surrounding Islam, Islamophobic hate speech is all over social media, and unfortunately it is now a cemented part of daily life for a large proportion of Muslims. A lot of non-Muslim British people do not seem to understand the gravity and extent of the sustained and targeted discrimination against a group of people which is happening in our country right now. These are not isolated incidents carried out by a few ‘bad eggs’ – the problem is systematic and pervasive. This is illustrated by the growing number of people who are being radicalised to hate Muslims and the rise of far-right ideology. We all need to play our part in taking this problem seriously and not standing by while innocent Muslims suffer.

I am proud to work for JAN Trust, who tackle these issues on a daily basis and provide essential services for marginalised BAMER and Muslim women. To find out more about the work we do visit our website here: https://jantrust.org/.

Posted in Crime, discrimination, Hate Crime, Inclusion, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Muslim women, Racism, radicalisation, Society, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to JAN Trust Romesh!

 

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JAN Trust is delighted to welcome on board new ambassador comedian Romesh Ranganathan. The last few years have been incredible for Romesh with two series of his BAFTA and RTS Nominated series Asian Provocateur receiving critical acclaim.  In 2016 Romesh embarked on his debut solo tour selling over 100,000 tickets and being awarded the Ents24 Hardest Working Comedian Of The Year.  The DVD/Digital release of the show is still flying high in the comedy charts with the highest sales of a debut in recent years.

Romesh embarked on his career in America last year appearing on ‘James Corden’s Late Late Show’ as well as performing at the world famous Greek Theatre.  2018 is already proving a busy year with him filming his new BBC2 series ‘Romesh’s Really Rough Guide’, Sky 1 commissioning a six-part series of ‘Rob & Romesh Meet’, becoming the new regular on ‘A League Of Their Own’ as well as writing and starring in his own Sky 1 sitcom ‘The Reluctant Landlord’.

JAN Trusts CEO, Sajda Mughal, has said “I would like to thank Romesh for recognising the vital work the JAN Trust does in educating and empowering BAME women, and for supporting our work in becoming an ambassador, Thank you!”

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, british, Campaign, Campaigning, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, JAN Trust, Sajda Mughal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shroud Of Dishonour – What really happens behind the curtains?

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Two prominent social and cultural patriarchal constructs play a role in all aspects of a woman’s life in the South Asian (SA) community; they are izzat (honour) and sharam (shame). Izzat and sharam are both factors that impede the assessment of child sex abuse, domestic violence and honour killings. These were and still are widespread issues swarming the community.

A woman’s chastity is sacred in the SA community; many women are encouraged to be submissive to avoid any sexual attention. There is a cultural construct dictating how each gender must conduct themselves in this community leading to generations of double standards. The concept of sharam and izzat comes in many forms in the South Asian (SA) community. But within the confined walls of the SA community, what lies is something a bit more sinister. Many in the community tend to sweep issues under the rug in order to maintain the ‘family’s honour’ and to continue by the community’s values.

Statistics show 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused and over 90% of those children were abused by someone they knew. Many SA families are in denial about the issues concerning abuse or sexual abuse towards children and women, they are a taboo. For some, anything from inappropriate touching to the rape of a child is usually swept under the rug. These heinous acts are going unreported for many reasons. One is to maintain the honour and not to bring sharam on the family. Many children are raised in patriarchal households, where their mothers are the caregivers and the fathers are bread-winners, who unfortunately may not give the emotional attention they necessarily desire.  As a result, many children are brought up to respect and revere their elders, particularly males. With this requirement and attitude they are placed in, children are expected to not question authoritative figures, otherwise they may face harsh consequences. Children, that have been abused sexually, are more likely to grow up with mental health issues, behavioural issues or even substance abuse.

Within the SA community women too are faced with sexual abuse as well as being victims of domestic abuse. The police recorded 464,886 cases of domestic abuse in England and Wales in 2017. The sickening truth is that of the women that are raped, many are raped by male members of their families or in-laws. They receive little or no help in order to preserve the notion of the family’s honour – they are not to bring shame on their family name regardless of the atrocious acts inflicted on them. Many women are emotionally blackmailed, for young girls; they are threatened with the idea of being in a forced marriage. For those who are already married, members of their family use them losing their children against them and others use psychological abuse to prevent the victims from seeking help. For many migrant women the situation has added frustration as their immigration status may be threatened and they are constantly reminded they will have no family to go back too because of the shame they will bring along with them. Consequently they are unaware of their rights, they have no families when they arrive to the UK, they have no close friends they can contact, and speak very little or no English to be able to go to the authority to seek help. Many women are in a sense trapped in this dire situation.

For a proportion of these young women, the domestic abuse can manifest into ‘honour-killings.’ Honour-killings are a result of young women or girls transgressing the social and cultural concepts created for them, they are consequently punished for tarnishing the family’s honour. Many cases have made it into mainstream media, with the most notorious being Samaira Nazir, in 2005, whose only crime was to want to marry someone from another ethnic background. Her throat was slit by her brother and watched by two young female family members, as a warning to them. The act of honour killings is a culturally prejudicial idea and not a religious act. The practice of honour killings has no sanction in Islam.

At JAN Trust we are here to educate women on these taboo issues; empower to have a voice and to be heard; encourage women improve their skills and continuously grow. We offer a safe environment for women to come and seek help and guidance on issues affecting them, including any form of domestic violence. If you are a victim or know anyone that is suffering, we encourage you to approach us so we can help.

Posted in discrimination, Ethnic Minorities, JAN Trust, mental health, Muslim women, Society, Uncategorized, Violence, Violence Against Women | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Generation Brexit: What does it means for youth?

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During the referendum on the 23rd of June 2016, which over 70% of the UK participated in, the country saw history in the making. We will leave the EU. However, what will happen to young adults!?

A staggering 71% of 18-25 year olds, with a further 54% of 25-49 year olds voted to Remain in the European Union (EU). It is also interesting to mention, 68% with a formal education, a degree or higher voted to remain, whilst only 30% with a GCSE level or lower voted Leave.

An issue that is likely to become worse post-Brexit is housing. Being able to own a home is STILL not likely post-Brexit. There is a misconception that once “all these immigrants are out of the country” the chances of owning a home will increase. This is false. It is just as difficult, if not more so, for migrants to climb the social housing ladder. In 2016/2017, 90% of social housing went to UK nationals. Leaving the EU will not suddenly create a wave of homes. This crisis is only made worse with the ever increasing government schemes for first time buyers to purchase a house. The lack of social housing being built for last few decades and the government’s policy of austerity means not enough affordable homes are being built. With little supply of homes and an increase in demand for homes, house prices could potentially increase post-Brexit.

Quality of education and job prospects are most likely to plummet. For many young Britons, the opportunity to study and work abroad will become limited. Graduates would have had the option to join a company abroad and the lack of freedom of movement will impede on this opportunity. Study abroad programmes as well as the diverse nature of staff in the education sector will fall dramatically, as it becomes less appealing. It could also mean that talented individuals are deterred from coming to the UK and having a positive effect on educating Britain’s youth. 125,000 EU students generate more than £2.2bn for the economy, not to mention to the funding of research from the EU for science will be at stake.

Another issue that will arise post-Brexit is a lack of investment. Professor Christopher Pissarides based at the London School of Economics has said that “The biggest negative impact will be felt over the next five years, but it will persist through the lack of investment and the weaker bargaining position that Britain will have in future negotiations.” Lack of investment will lead to less opportunity; it will have a negative effect on job prospects as many companies and individuals are hesitant to bring their business to the UK. Larger companies were not in favour of Brexit as it made it harder for them to move their money, people and their products around the world. With Brexit we may see a fall in economic growth as there will be a lack of young keen workers wanting to join the UK work force from abroad.

Although a large argument that won the ‘Leave’ campaign votes was that the money going into the EU could be better spent on the NHS, the opposite is actually true. As Brexit approaches, there will be more budget cuts. More importantly it will be a huge loss for the 60,000 EU members of the NHS staff that work just as tirelessly as all other members of the NHS staff.

The overall impact of Brexit on the younger generation is looking pretty bleak, with less job prospects and education opportunities, it will be this generation that suffers the most.

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Education, JAN Trust, Politics, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The importance of integration

The long awaited government’s integration strategy is broad and ambitious in many ways, and most notably it successfully recognises that true integration relies on the involvement of all parties – integration is a two way street. The burden should not be placed on minority communities, social divisions exist across many intersections, class, age, gender, race, religion – it is therefore paramount that a strategy designed to address integration is effective in addressing all these social divisions. This green paper potentially provides a unique opportunity to successful address integration across the UK.

The green paper identifies and proposes a number of priority policy areas to help drive integration in the UK. Of particular significance, to the JAN Trust, was the emphasis placed on the importance of learning English, a fundamental part of successful integration. Learning English unlocks the potential for individuals to overcome other potential barriers when it comes to assimilating into British society. A common language creates a shared sense of identity and values, helping to nurture a cohesive society, through a collective sense of belonging. A lack of meaningful access to essential ESOL services leads huge disadvantage for many communities. In an attempt to alleviate such disadvantages, the government has proposed a new strategy for ESOL programmes.

The new focus will be on piloting and establishing unique localised English language initiatives to empower these communities. It is of the utmost importance that it is recognised that there is a significant will amongst those who lack language skills to learn, this was highlighted by Chuka Umunna in his speech to parliament on release of this strategy. Without such recognition there is a risk that we ostracise the very individuals that the policy aims to empower.

Despite this new commitment from the government in the integration strategy to improve ESOL provision, it must be noted that since 2010 there has been a 60% cut in real terms of funding for ESOL provision, causing many learners to lose out on the opportunity to learn English. A major concern with the green paper is that as yet there exists no clear detail about how policies will be funded.

In the same week as the as the government published the integration green paper, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, released an Social Integration Strategy. That also has a strong focus on the improvement to the suitability and availability of ESOL. Khan has stated that prior to the devolution of the Adult Education Budget in 2019/20 there will be a number of piloted ESOL initiatives to inform future provision.

It is a fundamental right for women who live in the UK to learn English, and more significantly it’s vital to recognise to as a society we all gain from women’s access to ESOL provision. We now this at JAN Trust, as we have years of experience in this area and cannot emphasise enough how important it is for local BAMER and Muslim women to have an easily accessible centre for learning. The importance of localised grassroots initiatives such as ours in tackling social isolation for marginalised women is absolutely essential and since 1989 we have proven that this model works. We have pioneered this as our core-work for nearly 30 years, closely working with BAMER and Muslim women and providing ESOL and skills based classes. These classes are vital to build independence, a sense of self-determination and to enable integration into modern day British society.

Therefore if the government is serious about creating a cohesive society, there needs to be a significant move by the government to begin funding currently chronically underfunded ESOL provision. English is the cornerstone of integration. Thus to see the true advantages of such policies emerge it will be necessary for all initiatives to be rolled out nationally in the coming years; successful integration across the board mandates a national strategy.

English provides a true stepping stone for integration, opening opportunities beyond language. At JAN Trust we use our English classes as a platform to allow the women we work with to fully integrate and become independent and active citizens. Meaning our beneficiaries are able to move on to further education and employment, becoming ambassadors within their communities, as well as creating safer and stronger communities. At JAN Trust we empower women using a holistic approach that tackles a range of issue that can lead to isolation and deprivation.

To find out more about our work please visit our website.

Posted in Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, Islam, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Politics, Prime Minister, Representation, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Violent Extremism and Gangs; widely divergent goals inherent similarities

Although it is clear that the violent extremist and gangs differ vastly in their overall goals there are definitive similarities that can be drawn between the two groups.

There are many similarities that can be drawn between violent extremist groups and criminal gangs. There are many obvious parallels. Both groups involve illegal activities, especially violence and both are dominated mostly by young men.

There have been more than 50 suspected murders in the capital this year, raising a number of questions about the causes of violent crime in London. There is fraught debate about how best to tackle the causes of violent crime and the government’s role in protecting our young people.

At JAN Trust we find it hard not to draw similarities between violent extremism and violent gang related crime, for a number of reasons. However this is most evident in the recruitment process of both extremist groups and gangs. As with extremism there are a huge variety of reasons that a young person may be drawn into a gang. However, between the two there exists one prevailing theme, the recruitment of disaffected youths, and both promising a sense of belonging.

Although these groups may appear to have widely divergent goals, there are inherent similarities between them. Robert Orell a former member of a white supremacist movement in Sweden in the 1990s said “Yes, there are differences in ideology, but if you look at how these groups are organised, and who and how they recruit – actually, they are very similar.”

There are a magnitude of reasons for an individual to become disenfranchised and lacking a sense of individual and collective identity, that leads them seeking personal significance and a sense of belonging. Such reasoning can include factors such as: socioeconomic opportunity or lack thereof, societal marginalisation, and institutionalised oppression, leaving individuals with feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability. These circumstances leave individuals vulnerable to those who are willing to exploit feelings of powerlessness and marginalisation, creating the possibility of an attachment to an extremist organisation or gangs. These groups and organisations are able to provide those lacking a sense of identity, a sense of collective belonging and a purpose.

With growing austerity seen across the country it is no wonder more and more young people are turning to alternatives outside of the mainstream, between 2010 and 2016 youth services were cut by £387m.

It is important remember these often young men are only acting as foot solider for gangster and violent extremism groups, there is deep network of violent groups and individuals that prey on these vulnerable young men. On both sides they are making a calculated decision of who they pick on to recruit.

JAN Trust the highly acclaimed Web Guardians™ programmes that works at a grassroots level in local communities to support parents, mothers and foster carers to prevent and tackle online extremism. In addition to this in 2010 JAN Trust ran a similar model with same client base to prevent and tackle gun, knife and gang crime in Haringey, where four people have lost their lives since January. It is these kinds of programmes that are able to help support parents to have a real impact on the lives of their children. Current austerity measures mean that many organisations like JAN Trust are unable to do this vital work, to truly tackle these issues of extremism and gang violence the government must resources this vital work.

We must present and alternative to help young people with identity issues, or feeling alienated to realise that joining such groups does not provide them with the answers they look for. Addressing our fraying humanity in order to protect our young people and future generations, from the danger of recruiters, extremism and gang violence is a pressing agenda. We must address disparities that exist across society and foster a politics that provides equality for all; we can no longer ignore the fraught class divides that exist in our society that result in deaths of innocent lives.

Posted in Crime, Extremism, JAN Trust, London, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Society, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,