"There may be up to 200" 'radicalised' young Muslims in Scotland


Two hundred is troubling enough, but one also can't help but recall how the estimate of 1600 "extremists" in the entire United Kingdom quickly went to 2000 and beyond.

Tiny Minority of Extremists Alert. "Muslim leaders: not enough work being done in extremism fight," from The Herald:

Scotland's first high-profile terrorism trial has made uncomfortable viewing for members of the Muslim community.

Unlike those behind the attempted bombing of Glasgow Airport, Mohammed Atif Siddique was born and raised in Scotland. He attended mosques in Glasgow, Stirling and Alloa and his religious education was the same as any young Muslim growing up here could expect to receive.

The question facing community leaders now is: if Siddique could become so radicalised, could others? A study published recently by the Council of British Pakistanis in Scotland found that half the country's 31 mosque leaders thought extremist behaviour existed here, with the "vast majority" citing the UK Government's foreign policy as the reason.

And that assertion is accepted uncritically. But many Anglicans, Quakers, Buddhists, atheists, and so on, also disagree with British foreign policy. What keeps them from setting off bombs?

Security sources claimed yesterday there may be up to 200 other radicalised young Muslims in Scotland. But the Crown Office and Central Scotland Police went out of their way to stress that Siddique had been prosecuted as an individual for criminal acts, and that the case did not reflect on the wider Muslim community.

Muslim leaders who spoke to The Herald defended the reputation of Scottish mosques - the majority of which are Sunni - as liberal and moderate. Unlike some English mosques which have earned a reputation for radicalism, notably Finsbury Park in London where Abu Hamza gave sermons supporting terrorism, Scotland's mosques are not home to radical preachers or group meetings, they said.

Bashir Maan, chairman of Glasgow Central Mosque, said Siddique's was an isolated case which illustrated the dangers posed by extremist websites. Young people with access to computers could become influenced "anywhere in the world", Mr Maan said, comparing the dangers posed by extremists to that of paedophiles who groomed children via the web.

However, while Scotland's mosques have not been criticised for radicalising their members, prominent Scottish Muslims said not enough had been done to combat radicalism.

Naeem Raza, a consultant who advises and trains companies on understanding and dealing with Muslim communities, said there was "no evidence" that any mosques or formalised Islamic groups were spreading a jihadi message in Scotland.

But he said there was an attitude of "let's not talk about it" when it came to radical politics. The result, he said, was that young people in danger of being radicalised did not have an open forum in which to discuss political issues and be dissuaded from pursuing extremism.

Yes, facing the issue head-on would be a welcome change. But true progress would require the community to look inward, rather than blaming external factors as the fundamental cause of jihadist violence.

"Invariably, those who become radicalised will have been convinced by someone with a higher level of Islamic knowledge than them. It may not be correct, but it is more informed," said Mr Raza.

As usual, the texts themselves couldn't possibly be problematic.

Amanullah De Sondy, a divinity lecturer at Glasgow University, said Muslims were still "ghettoised" in Scotland, making them more vulnerable to radicalisation. "Why do people use this phrase Scottish Muslims'? Why not just Scots?" he asked. "Too many Muslims have two hats. One hat they wear when talking to people in the mosque, another when talking to people outside."

Indeed, but we have seen with the Doctor's Jihad Plot and other incidents that being well integrated into Western culture does not rule out the jihadist impulse, either.

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