Thursday 27 April 2017

What makes young members of British minorities turn to extremism?

British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron

Nina Massey

With David Cameron set to announce a five-year plan to combat home-grown terrorism, what are the issues surrounding the integration of British minorities, and why are they turning to extremism?

Until now there has been no such proposal, and counter-extremism experts argue that it has been missing.

According to Haras Rafiq, managing director of the Quilliam Foundation counter-extremism think-tank, the net result of this has been hundreds of people leaving Britain to join IS - also known as Isil.

But what should the strategy address?

Mr Rafiq says that, so far, Western leadership has shied away from actually naming the ideology that extremists are prescribing to.

"It has so far very much been a Voldemort effect - he who shall not be named - with no-one actually coming out and saying it is an Islamist ideology. It is totalitarian and fascist, it tells people to do things for God in order to rally them to its cause."

How do extremists use the ideology to convince people to join to them?

It focuses on creating a longing for identity, and a feeling of belonging to a group - something that some young people do not feel is being offered to them by British society.

Why are young people failing to integrate, and how have some been able to turn to extremism?

Mr Rafiq says it is not new for young people to rebel, and that rebelling against the establishment is something that is "very British". He argues that groups like IS offer vulnerable people a sense of belonging.

"They are taking on this Islamist identity rather than the British identity. This is because IS, for decades, have been peddling this utopian, Islamic caliphate without being challenged within society."

What is making young people turn to extremism?

Some experts believe it is a combination of three grievances - genuine grievances, partial grievances and perceived grievances.

Genuine grievances could be anything from racism to disenfranchisement, while partial grievances could be an aversion to certain foreign policies.

However, groups like IS focus to taking advantage of perceived grievances such as the victim mentality and conspiracy theories.

Extremists will focus on these grievances, will manipulate individuals, and use ideological arguments to convince people that the only way they will find parity is by joining their group.

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