Death of three Brighton teenagers prompts work to save youths from radical threat

Posted On 13 Mar 2015 at 7:55 am

The deaths in Syria of three teenagers from Brighton lie behind efforts to keep young people from being radicalised.

Community leaders have been briefed over the past fortnight on the measures which are taking shape.

Abdullah Deghayes, 18, and his brother Jaffar, 17, from Saltdean, both died in Syria last year – as did Ibrahim Kamara, 19, also from Brighton.

Senior officials from Brighton and Hove City Council and Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, from Sussex Police, tried to learn lessons by listening to members of the families affected.

They asked a leading expert, Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, to help widen the conversation and distil the lessons. It led to the creation of a programme known as One Voice.

He shared his findings with the council’s Community Safety Forum last week and with faith and community leaders earlier this week.

Mr Mughal highlighted the way that “grievances, a lack of belonging, a sense of feeling internally fractured within communities … can lead to vulnerabilities”.

He spoke about “trying to build connection points” and “trying to build confidence”.

He said: “What we found was that BME (black and minority ethnic) communities found the representation of their communities was negative in the local press.

“Another area that they also mentioned was concern around racism and hate crimes – it came across quite strongly from some participants that racism was still affecting some of their lives.

“Racism has created a sense of dislocation where people have felt like outsiders even within the city.”

He added that that feeling could be manipulated by those with an ideology.

The One Voice programme aims to help young people become more resilient to those with an extremist ideology.

It is also intended to give young Muslims the means to tackle Islamophobia in a positive way.

Mr Mughal touched on some of the practical challenges faced by those concerned with good community relations.

And he said: “Participants who are parents have raised their fears and concerns regarding online radicalisation and where young people may have inherent vulnerabilities.”

Members of the local Muslim community also met MPs and peers recently as part of efforts to improve communication. Many previously felt that they did not have a voice in civic life.

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