Why are some young Muslim men being radicalised? Is multiculturalism the cause for this? The argument goes, and it originates from France, that Britain faces a terrorist problem because it allowed too much space to its Muslim communities. It joins between the terrorism and the multiculturalism debates. People like myself have spent much of the past few years trying to separate out the two debates, primarily because we believe that joining between them does not honestly describe what is exactly going on.
Multiculturalism, where it is a problem, is about a lack of confidence and capacity. Terrorism is about politics. Some have attempted to reduce terrorism to issues of culture, but this can not explain the three major attacks that we have experienced in Britain: the July 7 bombings, the July 21 attempts and the Glasgow attempt. The first was mainly a group of Pakistani young men, the second was group of new migrants and the third was a group of doctors. It’s very difficult to theorise from these experiences but because the question is so urgent, it is important to understand the provenance of such motives.
We have on the occasion of the launch of a new book on ‘Islam in the European Union’ edited by Kasturi Sen and Yunus Samad (of BradfordUniversity) invited two leading experts from the national debate to discuss this matter: Rachel Briggs from Demos (click here to access the 'Bringing it Home' report) and Yahya Birt from City Circle. Yahya will be speaking about the theories of radicalisation that are offered and Rachel will be discussing the policy options that are available to government.
There are questions for Muslims and non-Muslims around these issues. For Muslims, it is important that we are not in denial about this very serious problem and also that we have a very good understanding of it. It is a problem that originates from within our community and that affects us as well. If we can understand radicalisation, then we can also help deradicalise those that are moved by events which are beyond our control. For the wider community, I think it is important to disentangle the debate on radicalisation from anti-Muslim prejudice. There is certainly one strand of argument that encourages this relation and not only is this a false description of events and people, it is also unhelpful. We look forward to meeting you on Monday.
Monday 12 Nov 2007
Title: Radicalisation and Multiculturalism
Location: John Stanley Bell Lecture Theatre, RichmondBuilding, University of Bradford