journeys at home and abroad
Prince Charles was on the TV news this evening talking about British young people being radicalised and wanting to join ISIS. Why would they do this?
You’d think that the people who’ve come here, born here, go to school here, would imbibe those values and outlooks.
But the frightening part is that people can be so radicalised, either through contact with somebody else or through the internet . . .
What I have been trying to do all these years with the Prince’s Trust is to find alternatives . . . constructive paths for [young people] to channel their enthusiasm, their energy, that sense of wanting to take risks and adventure and aggression and all these things.
Last Thursday on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, film-maker Deeyah Khan was speaking on the same topic. What has she learned from researching her new film on radicalisation?
I’m learning – and it obviously doesn’t take a genius to learn this – our response to this issue of radicalisation, and this spread & expansion of this violent jihadi movement – our response to it is not working.
They are gaining our children and our young people and we are, in our securitised approach, with more surveillance, more powers of arrest – I’m sure that’s helpful to an extent – but truly, we are losing more & more of our young people.
What I’ve learned is, underneath it all, there are emotional, human needs that this movement is satisfying for our young people. And that, actually, in a way, gives me hope, because that is something we can do something about –
whether it’s not feeling like you’re a hero in your own life
whether it’s feeling like you can’t contribute
or that you don’t have a place in society.
Both Prince Charles and Deeyah Khan identify a gap, something that British society doesn’t seem to be offering these particular young people as a matter of course, and which makes them vulnerable to exploitation.
I met a writer researching a book last week: should we be viewing radicalised young people as victims of grooming by criminal gangs? Their natural inclination is to be someone, to contribute, to belong, to take risks & be adventurous. For this, they need the cooperation of society; they can’t do it on their own. If their quest is thwarted, they make easy pickings for ISIS and similar ‘gangs’ who realise, at least to begin with, some of their dreams.
There is no obvious consensus on why young people are becoming radicalised. There is a fair amount of attention given to the ‘pull’ side – identifying the radicalisers, their methods and ideology. But secure, confident young people who are ‘their own person’ and have a recognised place in society and hope for the future are unlikely to fall prey to this.
The Prince’s Trust and Deeyah Khan are among those who are identifying the ‘push’ side of the process – ensuring all young people (and the communities they are part of) are fully included in British life, are given a chance to contribute, to be a hero in their own lives and to put their energy and enthusiasm to good use.
For all of us (not only charitable organisations and artists), this calls for far greater attention to the day-to-day discrimination, marginalisation and rejection from British life that some young people, particularly those from minority communities, experience.
I was struck by the contributions of two good friends of mine at a recent LBFN meeting. They offered their personal responses to the impact on local communities here in Britain of the Paris attacks in January. You can read their thoughts here.