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Keeping children safe from radicalisation is parenting not policing

28th Sep 2018

Sir, [‘Prevent strategy damaging Muslim family relations’, The Muslim News, August 24], an interesting article that parents ‘police’ their offspring from the day they come into the world.

When they are babies we go into their room ten times at night to check they’re still breathing. We set up alarms in the cot, we follow them around the room when they crawl to make sure they don’t put something in their mouth. We put locks on cupboard doors to stop them from getting their hands on dangerous substances. We feed them a balanced diet and try to avoid sweets because it’s bad for them. As they get older we want them home from school immediately, we want to know where they go with friends and whom they talk to on social media. We want to protect them from all the dangers that are out there. This is not policing it’s called parenting.

Wanting to keep our children safe from the danger of radicalisation is and should be part of our parenting responsibilities. Ask the parents whose children went out to Syria and have subsequently been killed if they would have liked someone to give them some understanding of what they could have done to stop their children making the biggest mistake of their lives. Of course, the author rightly says that the wearing of Islamic clothing or growing of beards is not signs of radicalisation – everyone has the right to dress and look as he or she pleases (that’s the joy of living in a democracy).

However, what is wrong with a parent talking to and questioning a child when they make changes to ensure there is nothing more sinister involved? As Muslim parents we need to be honest – there is another risk out there now that is targeting our children. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending this isn’t a reality is not only naive but bad parenting. Calling for a strategy to be scrapped that has proven to work, that deals with over 30 per cent of cases involving extreme right-wing (50 per cent in some parts of the country) indicates very little understanding of what it does.

If parents are living in fear, it’s because of the misconceptions and lies being propagated by those with a different agenda. I have personally been approached by many parents who have said they support Prevent and understand what it’s about, but would never admit that because they fear being attacked by the anti-Prevent lobby.

Yours,
Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal,
Regional FE & HE Prevent Lead in the West Mids
Via Email

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