New extremist crackdown launched

Date published: 01 November 2007

The Government last night admitted it feared the battle against Muslim extremism was shifting from mosques to gyms, cafes and the internet.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has announced £70 million to be spent promoting community leadership to withstand extremist tendencies.

The millions will be spent on national schemes including training for faith leaders and imams, and stepping up citizenship education in mosque schools.

The Government fears extremist activity is moving to ungoverned spaces where “vulnerable” people can be targeted.

Ms Blears said: “The process of radicalisation can be rapid.

“In somecases, people are isolated from family and friends, indoctrinated and manipulated within a matter of months.”

And she stressed it was still vital to ensure mosques acted as a “bulwark” against extremism in the community, and warned more needed to be done to engage with youngsters.

“By getting in early, by helping them understand their religion, equipping them with the confidence and skills to challenge and reject those preaching conflict, we can make today and tomorrow’s communities more resilient to the violent extremist message.”

A panel of Muslim women to advise the Government and “get things done” in their communities is also being set up, it was announced.

Mohammed Shafique of the Ramadhan Foundation has welcomed the initiative but says he is disappointed that the Government hasn't done more to engage with young people. Mr Shafique says that Hazel Blears acknowldged this when he spoke to her.
Mr Shafique added: "I think that it is an irony that the people most at risk were not involved in this programme.
However, we urged the Government to rename the fund from 'Tackling Violent Muslim Extremeism' to 'Community Cohesion Fund' and thank the Government for listening to our request and changing the name of the fund."

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