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Mothers Are At The Heart Of Fighting Online Radicalisation

17 JULY 2017

As with most random and horrifying experiences, we tend to rationalise with ourselves that terror attacks are things that happen to other people. We tell ourselves, ‘it wouldn’t happen to me’.


For me, as a survivor of the 7/7 bombings, I can no longer maintain this mind-set. I know only too well how indiscriminate terror attacks are, and how little you can do to stop yourself becoming a victim.


Society as a whole shares this threat of terrorism, and this means, across society, we have a shared responsibility to fight it. We need collaboration across governments, charities, private sector firms and individuals in order to root out extremism from within our communities.


What is essential in every aspect of society is that we foster a narrative, and a feeling, of unity. Ideologies of hatred and xenophobia which attempt to dehumanise ‘the other side’ are at the root of both Islamic extremism and far right extremism.


As shapers of our common sense of society, the media, the government and the internet have large roles to play.


The media must strive to report well-sourced information and avoid seeking sensationalist headlines simply to maximise sales. The government must do all they can to condemn the atrocities committed by these terrorists, but also to condemn the bigotry, xenophobia and Islamophobia that has spiked in recent months. Failing to challenge the racist rhetoric surrounding immigration debates, for example, serves to politically legitimise Islamophobic and far right extremist views.


The internet has transformed the way in which extremists radicalise and recruit, enabling them to reach global audiences in ever more dynamic ways. Vulnerable people, often seeking a sense of identity, are then radicalised through online material or groomed for recruitment. The rise in Islamophobic hate crimes leaves Muslims increasingly isolated and susceptible to radicalisation.


12 years ago, after I narrowly escaped becoming a fatal victim of Germaine Lindsay’s suicide attack which killed 56, I dedicated my life to fighting radicalisation from within my community, the Muslim community.


I recently appeared on BBC Sunday Morning Live to speak about the success of JAN Trust’s pioneering and unique method to tackle online radicalisation, which puts women at the heart of its strategy.


After community consultation, we developed our award winning Web Guardians™ programme which educates mothers on how to be effective guardians of their children preventing them being radicalised online.


At present we have no funding to continue our vital Web Guardians™ programme, leaving the most vulnerable in our society at risk of radicalisation, and the wider society at risk of falling victim to indiscriminate terrorist attacks.


Given the quick succession of terrorist attacks that the UK has suffered in recent months, the urgency to find support for our Web Guardians™ programme is stronger than ever.


If someone had been watching out for the signs of Germaine Lindsay’s radicalisation, we might have been able to prevent what happened on 7/7. We might have been able to save the lives of those who died.