Times Online

Muslim groups get £70m to tackle extremism

Joanna Sugden and agencies

Muslim groups will receive £70 million in Government funds to help tackle extremism in "ungoverned spaces" such as internet chat rooms and snooker halls.

Hazel Blears, Communities Secretary, said that the money will be targeted at Muslim communities and rejected suggestions that the funding discriminated against other faith groups.

Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio this morning, Ms Blears defended the Government’s decision to give the cash to Muslim rather than Christian or Jewish groups. “There is support for faiths across Government, but let’s be honest about this - what we are about is saying that we have a problem of radicalisation and extremism in a small minority of areas and communities.” Ms Blears said that it was the job of Government to support minority groups and enable them to be more resilient.

In a speech today the minister will make her first foray into tackling radicalisation and extremism in the community. She will announce plans to “beat the terrorists at their own game” by extending the fight against terrorism to gyms, cafes and the internet where increasingly-sophisticated techniques are used to recruit youngsters.

Ms Blears said: “This is a generational issue. We have got to get to young people - five to 15-year-olds, as well as the teenagers who are currently being targeted - and strengthen their resilience, so that they can say to the extremists ’I am comfortable with being a Muslim in Britain today and I want no part of it’.”

Speaking to council leaders, police, academics and charities, the Communities Secretary will say that new tactics by extremists require a new, bolder response. Some £70 million is to be spent promoting community leadership to withstand extremist tendencies. That will include £25 million on national schemes including training for English speaking imams, and setting up citizenship lessons in madrassas, or mosque schools.

Ms Blears will say: “Given the scale and enduring nature of the threat we face, tough security measures are vital. But they cannot be the whole solution. We have to overcome this challenge by giving communities the strength and skills to face down a false and perverted ideology.” She will go on to acknowledge that the challenge of overcoming extremism “will be with us for years to come” and urge the audience to do more in helping the next generation to beat it. “That is why we will be putting work with young people and Muslim women centre-stage, giving the silent majority a voice.”

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