JAN Trust is a multi-award winning charity empowering and providing leadership for women in order to create positive and active citizens of society

Nazir Afzal becomes a Patron of JT

JAN Trust is delighted to announce that Nazir Afzal OBE has become our Patron.

Nazir Afzal has had an extensive and distinguished career in the Crown Prosecution Service. He was Britain’s most senior lawyer within the Crown Prosecution Service and made history as the first Muslim to be appointed to such a position.

Throughout his extensive career, Afzal has worked on numerous high profile cases, such as that of the Rochdale child abuse ring and has been CPS lead on tackling Violence Against Women, having been moved by traumatic accounts of women's suffering within his own Pakistani community. His
ethos very much aligns with that of JAN Trust, he has described that through his work he wanted to give "a voice to the voiceless" and champion the vulnerable. He pioneered work to tackle honour-based violence and forced marriage, both key concerns of JAN Trust, initially bringing these issues to the top of the public agenda through a CPS conference in 2004.

Afzal was made OBE for his services in 2005 and has been the recipient of many awards including lifetime achievement award British Pakistani Foundation in 2012 and CPS public servant of the year 2007.


Speaking about his appointment as Patron, Afzal said, “I have always been impressed by the work that Sajda and the JAN Trust carry out protecting the most vulnerable in London. They are rightly regarded as one of the finest NGOs working in the fields of violence against women and preventing extremism. It is a distinct honour to be asked to be a Patron and I am delighted to play my part in its continuing success.”

Mr Afzal is currently Pro Chancellor Brunel University, and works as an independent advisor on criminal justice and earlier this year was given the title of honourary doctorate of law from the University of Manchester.

JAN Trust is proud to have someone that we have long admired as an Ambassador and we are looking forward in working together to continue our vital work to empower BAMER women across the country.

 

The Growing Problem of Knife Crime in London

As a London-based charity, JAN Trust has been shocked to witness the dramatic rise in knife crime that has occurred across the capital in the past year. To date, 9 people have been killed in the capital in 2017 and nationally knife crime is at the highest levels since 2011.

And this is without even considering the hundreds of people injured in such attacks. In the 12 months until March this year, this figure was 2028. In Kings College Hospital in London, one surgeon notes that 25% of the trauma injuries they see are directly related to knife crime.

While this is an issue across the country, Met office figures show that in the past year in London gun and knife crime have both risen particularly sharply – by 42% and 24% respectively.

Metropolitan police report released last month indicated that between 2014 and 2016 the number of children carrying knives in London schools rose by almost 50%, while the number of knife offences in London schools rose by 26%.

This is a devastating situation that clearly cannot be ignored.

Far from an issue which has suddenly appeared in the last year, this has been a growing problem for many years because of funding cuts, both to police services and youth facilities.

Many have noted that this tragic situation in which so many young people have lost their lives has been the direct result of funding cuts to the police system. In London, the estimated effect on the Met’s annual £3bn budget ranges from a £100m to £700m reduction.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has said he would fight any further cuts but clearly this is only part of the solution.

Until now, prevention has largely focussed on short-term measures such as limiting the sale of knives to young people, controversial stop and search policies, or punitive sentencing in the aftermath of attacks.

Recently, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor has called for an increase in stop and search to prevent knife crimes, and there have even been suggestions of the introduction of metal detectors at school entrances to prevent students from bringing in knives.

However, the murder of a 23-year old man on Tuesday – making 7 knife-crime related deaths in the space of a week – has prompted the MET to take a different approach.

On Wednesday, Scotland Yard announced the creation of Operation Sceptre which will a task force of 80 specialists but also, crucially, a focus on prevention work in schools.

Finally it has been accepted that limited short-term measures are not enough. There needs to be a more holistic approach.

Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher has said that, “Strategies focused upon particular offences should be complemented by…. broader long-term initiatives against poverty and social exclusion…with messages which are delivered by communities”.

This community-based approach is a measure that JAN Trust wholeheartedly welcomes. With funding we have devised and delivered programmes to mothers and young people raising awareness and tackling knife crime, gun and gang-related violence.

Initiatives such as ours are clearly ones that need supporting and we welcome the MET’s plans to take a more community-based holistic approach to tackle this tragic problem.

Visit our website at http://www.jantrust.org to find out more about the work we do.

What Effect will Brexit have on Muslims in the UK?

The triggering of Article 50 on 29th of March which signalled the start of the two-year long process of the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU has been met with hugely differing reactions. From those in the Leave camp who want the country’s national sovereignty restored, it is hard to remember a time in recent history when the UK has felt so divided. This feeling has only been exacerbated by Scotland’s decision to hold a second independence referendum.

While many people across the country - and indeed the whole EU - are feeling uncertain and even scared, for some communities this worry is stronger than others.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum for the UK to leave the EU it was recorded that there was a 41% increase in hate crimes, which includes racially or religiously aggravated crimes. And Muslim women, in particular those who openly express their faith by wearing the hijab or the burqa, are more vulnerable to attacks than men. Tell MAMA, an organisation that measures anti-Muslim attacks, noted that “women were more likely to be attacked or abused while travelling on public transport to town and city centres or when shopping.”

This is a consequence of a Leave campaign which relied on anti-immigrant rhetoric to gain votes. The issue of high levels of immigration has been an issue for the British electorate for many years now, as they fear the rising population to be a strain on public services. Nigel Farage, former leader of UKIP, took advantage of this fear by unveiling a highly controversial poster during the campaign which was of a queue of immigrants, largely from the Middle East, with the words “Breaking point: the EU has failed us all.”

However, this increase in hate crime – and especially Islamophobia - did not begin with the referendum. The far-right in the UK has been growing in recent years, with groups taking advantage of the internet and social media to reach more people. Tommy Robinson, co-founder of the English Defence League, has a large following on Twitter which he uses as a platform.

The political climate of Brexit, along with the US election of Donald Trump, has marginalised many ethnic minorities in both the UK and the US. Prime Minister Theresa May failed to condemn President Trump’s policy of a travel ban for some majority-Muslim countries. This has led to many ethnic minorities, especially Muslims, feeling isolated and stigmatised as ‘terrorists’.

Another issue that Brexit brings is whether citizens’ rights will still be protected. Currently the UK abides to the European Court of Human Rights and its rulings, where families and individuals are protected. Leaving the EU will mean that a new set of rights will be drawn up, which could affect the rights of many citizens, especially immigrants, in the UK.

Despite these numerous causes for concern, the attack in Westminster on March 22nd, rather than inciting racism and Islamophobia led instead to an outpouring of solidarity. London, being the second most culturally diverse city in the world, united in the face of terrorism.

Islam as a religion should not be smeared by horrific individual acts. The recent news of a Kurdish-Iranian 17 year old asylum seeker being attacked in Croydon is shocking, yet in a way unsurprising. Unfortunately, there is now an unjustified fear of immigrants, which means that in the UK, Muslims and other ethnic minorities have to be careful whilst in public. Muslim women should be especially careful as their headwear is indicative of their faith. Until the process of Brexit is settled and an immigration policy is decided, the far right will use the platform of social media to make immigrants the enemy.

At JAN Trust, we believe that this climate of fear is counter-productive in creating tolerance in a British society which takes pride in multiculturalism. The UK must remain tolerant of other communities if we are to progress and improve as a society.

Banning the hijab in workplaces is a step backwards in the fight for unity

A new ‘integration law’ has been introduced by the Austrian government, which is to ban all Muslim face veils in public places. The law is expected to be implemented this year. The draft law in Austria also envisages a full ban on any Muslim headscarves for all state and public officials, police personnel, judges and prosecutors as part of the “neutrality standard in the public services.” Around 3000 women marched in Vienna in retaliation. There were chants and placards with the words “Hey Minister, hands off my sister”.

The news in Austria did not receive as much media coverage as the ruling from the EU’s highest court ruled that employers can ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols, including niqabs or headscarves. This news is coming in the wake of elections and policy issues throughout Europe which have surrounded the topic of immigration and national security issues.

Europe’s right-wing have welcomed this ruling, while humans right and religious groups have condemned it as impeaching upon individuals’ religious freedoms. The ruling applies to all religious symbols, but targets Muslim women due to the hijab being an outward sign of a religious practice. In response to the ruling, many Muslim women have expressed surprise as it discourages Muslim women working.

The ruling however is unsurprising considering the right-wing sentiment sweeping across Europe. Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate of France, has condemned citizens wearing religious symbols in France, stating that those who do are “No longer living a  French life”. France became the first European country to ban the burqa and niqab in 2010.

We at JAN Trust believe that this ruling suggests that these European governments do not welcome multicultural communities. It means that Muslim women who wear headscarves will be further prevented from accessing the job market. They are already one of the most unemployed ethnic groups in the UK. This may also lead to a rise in Islamophobia due to this discrimination in the job market.

London is a Diverse City - We Cannot Let a Terrorist Attack Stir up Hatred and Fear

Yesterday, in shocking and tragic scenes broadcast across the world, London suffered its first terrorist attack for over a decade. The British capital had not seen similar tragedy since the 7/7 bombings which claimed 52 lives and injured countless more.

The attacks yesterday, which claimed the lives of four people, including a police officer on duty at the time, and injured dozens more, took place at the heart of British democracy in Westminster when a truck drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing it outside parliament and trying to enter the Palace of Westminster, armed with a knife.

While the attacks themselves were, of course, shocking, what has been heart-warming has been London’s reaction. People from all sides have condemned the violence and expressed sympathy for the victims and their families without falling prey to the divisive anti-Islamic propaganda the far-right has, inevitably, tried to whip up.

When Tommy Robinson, ex EDL leader and Islamophobe, rushed to the scene of the attacks yesterday afternoon to spout his typical hate speech, he was ridiculed and branded a “vile opportunist”.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan released a statement yesterday vowing that “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism”, and this sentiment has been mirrored across social media. The hashtag #WeStandTogether has been trending since the aftermath of the attacks yesterday evening with people rejecting the hatred that both those responsible for attacks and the far right are seeking to promote.

And it is just this solidarity and community support is ultimately what we need to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again.

The fact that the assailant was British-born proves, once again, that the way of dealing with extremism is not a ban on immigrants or refugees, but a need to prevent people within our communities from becoming radicalised by predatory extremists.

While it is too early to know the exact motives of the assailant, as with other terrorist attacks carried out across Europe, these are invariably individuals who feel marginalised or isolated and have been targeted and “groomed” by extremist organisations and indoctrinated by their propaganda into carrying out such an atrocity.

The assailant was already known to MI5, indicating that he had shown signs of violent radicalisation. These are signs that should have been noticed by those around him - his friends, family and community. Had this been the case, these attacks could have been prevented.

Little is known about the attacker except that he was British-born, but earlier today Daesh took responsibility for the attacks, calling him a “soldier of the Islamic State”.
As far as we know, the assailant had never been to Daesh’s caliphate – meaning that he was, in all likelihood – indoctrinated online.

Online radicalisation, from both groups such as Daesh or the far right, is a growing problem, and one which parents are often unaware of or unsure how to deal with.

Countering this threat, as a community, is exactly what JAN Trust does with our Web Guardians© programme. We to prevent extremist radicalisation by educating parents about the dangers of extremist groups online so that they can counter these threats and, ultimately, ensure their children do not follow this same path.

o commemorate the victims, a service took place in front of Scotland Yard on Thursday morning, in front of the flame that burns as a tribute to all dead, and a vigil is planned for this evening at 6pm in Trafalgar Square.

At JAN Trust we want to express our deepest sympathies for all of the victims and their families and friends.

What we must now do is ensure that these attacks do not achieve their aim of dividing us but serve instead to unite us and work, together, so that such a tragedy is not allowed to happen again.

Uniting For A Better Internet: What We Can All Do To Stop Extreme Content Reaching Our Kids

Hate speech, online ‘trolls’ and extremists who use the internet to target our children were thrust back into the headlines this week as MPs summoned tech giants to answer why they’re not doing more to stop it.

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google were asked by the Home Affairs select committee why they did not police their content more effectively.

The social media leaders were told their companies had a "terrible reputation" for dealing with problems.

It is a welcome move. Pressure needs to be put on these companies to do more. They are often accused of putting profit over the safeguarding of young people and at this hearing, MPs asked exactly that tough question.

The response was an acknowledgement that they are indeed not doing enough.

We are gravely concerned that terrorist organisations such as Daesh are ramping up their efforts to target young adults here in the UK via the platforms these tech giants provide, so any progress made to more effectively police content is great news.

Back in December 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft announced they were teaming up to tackle extremist content. They pledged to work together to identify and remove extremist content on their platforms through an information-sharing initiative.

This represented a welcome first step. We hope that the Home Affairs select committee hearing will encourage further moves forward.

However, the content on these sites and apps is vast. We, as users, need to assist in policing and reporting far-right, terrorist or bullying content so that the tech companies can act.

And we also need to monitor what our children are accessing when online, whether that’s via computer or their smartphones.

Safer Internet Day 2017 was celebrated globally on Tuesday 7th February with the theme 'Be the change: unite for a better internet'. We published a blog on the day focusing on what parents can and should do to play their part in safeguarding our kids. This holds the key.

It’s right that the powers that be from the tech giants are taken to task about their safeguarding shortcomings and challenged about how and when they are going to start doing more to remove extreme content.

But each and every one of us must unite in our fight to ensure threatening posts which can lead to radicalised views do not reach and begin to indoctrinate our children.

We must educate ourselves and our children about online material and what to do if we come across it. Understanding that while the internet is an incredibly valuable resource it can pose a risk to our wellbeing.

At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project. Our sessions explore how to deal with the threats and how to speak with our children about them.

Our strategy begins right in our homes. We are encouraged by government moves to question the social media giants and hope this leads to a reduction of extremist content online. But we must work together, uniting for a better internet. And for a brighter future for our children.

Celebrating International Women’s Day at JAN Trust

Happy International Woman’s Day to women (and men) across the world! Many events are happening today, including a general strike in the US against the current administration and their attitude towards women and a parallel Day Without Women strike in the UK to highlight women’s contribution to the economy. A highlight of the day is set to be Malala Yousafzai’s UN speech which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.  

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the world, socially, economically, culturally and politically. The day also calls for gender equality. International Women’s Day is important in symbolising the power of women across the world. This day is a day to commemorate the hard work that women all over the work commit to in order to achieve their dream. Last Year the campaign was a pledge to end gender disparity. This year, the International Women’s Day theme is to Be Bold for Change,- encouraging women to be empowered in the fight for gender equality. .

Currently, despite the UN’s theme of achieving 50/50 gender equality by 2030, it is estimated that this will not happen for 170 years. However, the fight for gender equality has been slowly making progress.

Last week, the UK Parliament voted to pass a bill which aims to end domestic violence. And since International Women’s Day last year, gender equality around the world has progressed. The US Senate has more women than ever before. Maternal mortality has fallen by 45% since 1990. In terms of representation, more movies now have female protagonists. Rwanda’s parliament has the highest number of women representatives in the world. In terms of educational attainment, girls are outperforming boys.

Of course, despite these changes there is still much to be improved and awareness still needs to be raised around the issues facing women and girls. Still, one in three women experience gender-based violence and annually 62 million girls are denied access to education.

At JAN Trust, we have helped to empower over 110,000 women by giving them skills to improve their employment prospects including IT, English and fashion. Our Web Guardians© programme works to provide women and mothers to tackle extremism and online radicalisation, protecting their young ones. Furthermore, our Against Female Genital Mutilation and Against Forced Marriages campaigns work to raise awareness of the human rights abuses women suffer around the world on a daily basis. During this month of celebrating women’s achievements, if you would like to support the work that JAN Trust does, text JANT00 £10 to 70070.

Our Director, Sajda Mughal OBE, has said:

“Every year I welcome International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and also the potential of women. As the leader of a multi-award winning women’s charity, JAN Trust, I recognise the key role that women play in society, a role that is often overlooked. I work to create gender parity in all areas by providing women with the skills so that they can integrate, feel confident in their abilities and fulfil their full potential.  For JAN Trust, being Bold For Change means unlocking the potential that women all over the world have. As leaders, we have a responsibility to take decisive action to help include and advance women. Everyone – women, men and non-binary people – can pledge to take a step to help achieve gender parity in whatever way they can. At JAN Trust this includes helping women to believe that they can push themselves to achieve their very best and take control of their lives. In 2017 let us all #BeBoldForChange and fight for gender parity between men and women.”

#IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange

Vulnerable Minds: How Daesh is Recruiting Iraqi Children and Targeting British Teenagers

As Iraqi forces’ liberation of Mosul continues, attention is increasingly focusing on what Daesh will do next.
 
It’s feared their leaders, members and sympathisers will ramp up their sinister efforts to target our young people here in Europe, calling for so-called ‘lone wolf’ attacks on home soil, prompting calls for us all to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting our children online.
 
One of Daesh’s most horrifying future strategies is the indoctrination and training of a new generation of fighters. As Daesh’s failed ‘caliphate’ collapses, hoards of fighters have been deserting the ranks – if they haven’t already been killed in combat or suicide attacks. Now, Daesh is preying on the most vulnerable and malleable minds: those of Iraqi and Syrian children.
 
The Independent recently published letters from young radicalised recruits to their parents, discovered at abandoned Daesh hideouts in eastern Mosul. They make for heart-wrenching reading.
 
One, written by Iraqi schoolboy Alaa Abd al-Akeedi, says: “My dear family, please forgive me. Don't be sad and don't wear the black clothes [of mourning]. I asked to get married and you did not marry me off. So, by God, I will marry the 72 virgins in paradise.” He was killed by his suicide vest shortly after. It’s thought he was just 16 years old.
 
The news agency Reuters has managed to gain access to relatives of the teenagers who left the notes.
 
Family members tell a story of innocence; of vulnerable, fragile minds being targeted and then indoctrinated. A man reveals that his teenage relative, who was recruited by Daesh and killed in a suicide attack, had been overweight and insecure and joined the jihadists after his father's death. He told Reuters: “His mind was fragile and they took advantage of that, promising him virgins and lecturing him about being a good Muslim. If someone had tempted him with drugs and alcohol, he probably would have done that instead.”
 
It is this last statement that hits home. As parents, we all understand the worry that our children will hang out in the ‘wrong crowd’ and get into drugs. Young minds are open to influence and eager to try new things – to ‘grow up’. It can be as easy as that.
 
In Iraq and Syria, young people may not be exposed to violence in the same format that our children are in the UK. Despite our efforts to shelter or protect them, our kids consume film, TV, online and video game violence to a point of such desensitisation that it is normalised. They witness the violence occurring in places like Syria and Iraq through their screens.
 
Syrian and Iraqi children on the other hand are directly witnessing violence on the streets in the most gruesome and horrific ways. Some have even been exposed to it under the regime of Daesh as the terrorist group took control of their neighbourhoods, yet even they are vulnerable to radicalisation.
 
Violence is glamourised in action films and video games in the virtual world British children often live in. The brutal realities of extreme violence are all too real for many Iraqi and Syrian children.
 
Some may be more susceptible to radicalisation than others. But all are vulnerable.
 
Phone apps and the Internet make it simple for a direct line to be formed between a Daesh militant in Iraq and our children here in the UK. Daesh knows that our young people are excited by video game violence, by the idea of handling a rifle and fighting an enemy.
 
Considering all of this, we must educate ourselves about the dangers and threats are children face and ensure lines of communication are open between us as parents and our children to protect them and prevent radicalisation.
 
At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project.
 
Many families have been destroyed by Daesh. JAN Trust is helping in the struggle against home-grown radicalisation so that more families do not have to suffer this same fate.
 
If you are interested in finding out more about Web Guardians© go to http://jantrust.org/projects/web-guardians

Marine Le Pen’s Vision of an Islamophobic France

Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate for the National Front party, a right-wing party which has not been in power since its founding in the 1960s, has caused endless controversy with her campaign. She has stated that she is opposed to a multicultural France and in similar words to Trump’s during his presidential campaign. that she wants to place “France first”.

Inevitably, Nigel Farage, one of the pioneers of the ‘Brexit movement’, supports the election of Marine Le Pen, signifying the political stance that Le Pen takes. Like Farage she is also calling to leave the European Union, so that, in her view, France would have  more control over its borders and is able to lower immigration levels. In 2015 she appeared in court  for inciting hate speech when, in 2010, she compared Muslims praying in the street to a Nazi occupation. Her father, founder and previous leader of the National Front, was fined in 2016 for denying that the Holocaust during the Nazi era ever occurred.

Similarly to many right-wing movements in Europe and the US, her focus is now largely on the so-called “threat” of Islam. She has stated: “We do not want to live under the rule or threat of Islamic fundamentalism. They are looking to impose on us gender discrimination in public places, full body veils or not, prayer rooms in the workplace, prayers in the street, huge mosques... or the submission of women”.

Regarding immigration, she suggested that future generations of children will not speak French as immigration will dominate and change French culture. She has said that “Every minute, every instant, from Brittany to Corsica and from Lille to Strasbourg, the French look around them, and ask themselves: Where am I?”. Unsurprisingly, her policies are highly nationalist. She has stated that French nationals would have to renounce dual citizenship if their second nationality is from outside Europe. Her views coincide strongly with President Trump’s, she advocated support for his travel ban, stating that people who opposed it did so in “bad faith.” One of her senior aides argued that a Muslim travel ban, like the one introduced in the US recently, would work in France.

Fortunately, while Le Pen is en route to winning the first round of voting in France, she is unlikely to become President of France according to predictions. Polls show her to be 20-30% behind the other candidates in the last round of voting in May. Then again, polls failed to predict both the outcome of the EU referendum in the UK and of the US presidential election.

Whatever the outcome, Le Pen’s vitriolic campaign has furthered division and exacerbated support for xenophobic sentiments. She is a xenophobic and discriminatory politician who is preying on the fears of voters by using immigrants as scapegoats. She is taking advantage of populist sentiment across Europe and the US. The current political climate of hatred is worrying for charities like JAN Trust which aim to promote inclusivity and integration.

For more information on the work we do to fight racism and Islamophobia, visit our website: www.jantrust.org

The experience of immigrants in the UK must not be underestimated as anything other than a struggle

While immigrants have often experienced difficulties integrating into a new society, in the past few years in the UK they have experienced increasing problems as a direct result of anti-immigration rhetoric from political parties which have then influenced citizens and government.

Even some immigrants who have been in the UK for two decades still struggle to integrate because of linguistic barriers or because they cannot find employment. The language barrier automatically suggests that they are uneducated when, in reality, it just prevents them from being able to properly express themselves. Even when an immigrant’s English is good, they can be held back by their accent which can cause miscommunication.

The children of these immigrants who are born in the UK and defined as ‘second-generation’ immigrants, integrate much more easily, if not always completely, into British society. As a result, there can be a huge generational gap in terms of ideas and culture. They often rely on their children for help with things they cannot understand; potentially making them feel even more like a burden. However, this is one of the main reasons that immigrants have come to the UK, to provide a better life for their children even if they themselves will struggle.

And this is before we even consider the xenophobia. As Kenyan-Somali poet Warsan Shire writes, when an immigrant arrives to their destination country:

‘And you are greeted on the other side
with
go home blacks, refugees
dirty immigrants, asylum seekers
sucking our country dry of milk,
dark, with their hands out
smell strange, savage –
look what they’ve done to their own countries,’

As has been proven, employment opportunities are scarcer because of discrimination based on the colour of your skin or your religion. In recent years as services and resources are becoming more constrained, the first scapegoat becomes the immigrant - migrants have taken the jobs, are taking benefits unnecessarily, are exploiting the NHS. Rhetoric which has been heard too often.

As a result, many women do not integrate and there are areas of the UK where divisions and xenophobia are rife. The JAN Trust aims to help immigrants who are struggling to integrate with English and ICT classes. To find out more go to http://jantrust.org/.

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