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

extremism,

JAN Trust’s view: What has the Queen’s Speech told us about new counter-terrorism measures?

In the final days of the election campaign, Theresa May announced “enough is enough” – terrorism was not to be left unchallenged.  She revealed a readiness to weaken human rights laws if they “get in the way” of apprehending terror suspects. Last Tuesday, the Queen’s Speech detailed the Government’s plans for tackling terrorism.

Queen Elizabeth II revealed that a “Commission for countering extremism will be established”. Interestingly, she expanded that the commission would aid eliminating extremism in “all its forms”, including “on the internet”.

JAN Trust has long emphasised the dangers of online radicalisation – publishing a pioneering report on this problem in 2012. The majority of the culprits of recent terror attacks, including the Manchester arena bombing, the London Bridge attack and the Westminster attack, were all exposed to extremism on the internet. The role of the internet in the process of radicalisation is becoming increasingly clear.

This reality only highlights the importance of our Web Guardians™ programme. This is a course that empowers mothers to prevent and tackle online extremism, building community resilience.

However, without funding we are unable to continue this vital work. JAN Trust is calling out to the new government to support a programme that protects our young people from the dangers of the internet. We must put an end to online radicalisation.

In the wake of these recent terror attacks in Britain, we welcome the government’s renewed emphasis on tackling terrorism. We believe that our grassroots approach to preventing radicalisation and extremism will be integral in doing so, and we hope to receive recognition and financial support to carry on our work.

We want all our children, families and communities to be safe from violence and extremism. To learn more about the Web Guardians™ programme, watch this testimony.

On Internet Safety Day – let’s commit to defending our families

It’s Internet Safety Day today and I can’t stress just how important it is for parents to be aware of what their kids are looking at online. All teenagers crave their personal space and so we have to approach this with tact and diplomacy. But there are well-recognised warning signs when your son or daughter is being groomed online by extremists or worse, terrorists.

This isn’t about parents smothering their children with too much attention or feeling excluded from their children’s lives. It’s about the reality of groups like Daesh and Al Qaeda targeting teens with some pretty horrific material. Recent output from these groups in English and other languages has included guides to carrying out bomb attacks, knifings and kidnappings.

Alongside the text are diagrams going into explicit detail of where to plunge the knife or how to send a letter bomb. All of this presented as if committing a terror act was the most natural thing in the world. One can only imagine the impact this could have on an impressionable or highly disturbed mind. In fact, one doesn’t have to imagine it – a string of recent atrocities should have made the risk crystal clear to all of us.

As Daesh faces defeat for its so-called “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, it’s gone into hyper-drive on social media, urging anybody to carry out brutal attacks in its name. This shows us what’s particularly dangerous about our new digital world – that terror groups can not only spread their message, but also remotely direct and guide individuals to perpetrate murder –  sometimes on a massive scale as we saw in Nice and Orlando.

So how does online radicalisation happen? Recent court trials have evidenced in detail how young people are sucked into social media support networks, where they are given a sense of being and a globalised terrorist identity. They are often contacted via Twitter then drawn into the darker corners of the web, encrypted spaces where conversations are harder to monitor. There is no single route to being radicalised online but there are some very well worn paths.

Frighteningly, we’ve seen teenagers engaged in direct conversations with a charismatic Daesh killer in Syria or Iraq who will give them easy answers to life’s problems. Their young targets are presented with a binary choice between the world of disbelief and that of Daesh with its twisted and corrupt version of Islam. This has proven very seductive to some young men and women because they don’t hear alternative and corrective viewpoints. Instead of turning to parents, teachers and faith leaders for guidance, they listen to their Daesh handler online or the rants of extremist hate preachers on YouTube.

The internet should be about spreading wisdom, but instead it has disseminated fake news and totalitarian ideologies. It has risked polarising young people with the toxic combination of both Far Right and Islamic terrorist material. Both of these forms of extremism relish an end to compromise and reasoned debate. The vicious slanging matches and supremacist insults on social media are their natural form of debate. Neo-fascists and Islamic terrorists are not interested in using the online space to educate and inform, to them it’s about forming battle lines and hardening attitudes. We simply can’t let that happen.

For those of us who still believe in truth and honesty, these can seem like grim times. But this is why Web Guardians© runs such valued sessions, so we can come together to defend those we love from lies and hate-filled violence. In our school playgrounds and university coffee bars, there are people being deceived by online demagogues or watching indescribably brutal executions and slaughter circulated by the Daesh PR machine.

We’ve endured this situation for a long time but also learned how to contain it and push back against the hatemongers. On this Internet Safety Day, let’s commit once more to protecting our families and neighbourhoods from poisonous views. We all cherish free speech and democracy. But we need to recognise those who are using the power of social media to wreck lives and set us against each other.

For more information and to know what you can do – come and attend one of our Web Guardians© sessions.

Sajda Mughal

Jan Trust

 

#WeStandTogether JAN Trust's View on the Manchester Attacks

Here at JAN Trust we are devastated to hear about yet another attack that has taken the lives of 23 people and injured at least 59 others. Our thoughts are with the families, friends and loved ones of the victims at this awful time.

The attack, which took place after an Ariana Grande concert at the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena last night, is particularly shocking as it seems to have been targeted at children and young people.

The unnamed man who carried out the attack died in the explosion. So far one 23-year old has been arrested and a flat in south west Manchester has been raided.

For our director, Sajda Mughal, terrorist attacks always take her back to the time 12 years ago when she was a victim of terrorism in the 7/7 attacks in London, which killed 52 people and injured many more.

But for Sajda, these events also highlight why she dedicated her life to work at the heart of communities to prevent and tackle extremism. Since the horrific events of 7th July 2005, Sajda has been at the forefront in working with mothers and families in preventing others suffering this fate by developing the pioneering Web Guardians ™ programme, aimed at preventing radicalisation and online extremism via an intensive educational programme.

What this latest attack makes clear is the need for more pre-emptive action to prevent people from becoming radicalised by predatory extremists, rather than attempting to make arrests in the aftermath. With the growing presence of extremist groups online, both from the far right and extremist Muslim groups, this should be a matter of national priority. Ultimately, it is only with education that we can defeat this scourge.

At this terrible time it is important to remember that we need to stand together and that we don’t let terrorism achieve its aims of division and hatred.

And, as was the case in London in the aftermath of the recent attack in Westminster, this is what is happening in Manchester. In the wake of the attack, Mancunians showed a heart-warming level of solidarity – taxi drivers offered free lifts to people who had attended the concert, many people offered rooms in their homes to victims, with the hashtag #RoomForManchester immediately trending on Twitter, and blood banks have had to start turning donors away as so many people have turned up to donate.

JAN Trust would like to reiterate the statement made by Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, who has said has said, “Let’s not descend into a situation of mutual distrust between our communities. The individual who carried this out is an extremist and doesn’t represent any of our communities and does not represent the people of Greater Manchester in any way, shape or form.” We at JAN Trust stand together in the face of terrorism and will not let fear seep into our communities and divide Britain.

Acid Attacks in Britain: A Weapon of Terror

Two Muslim cousins, enjoying 21st birthday celebrations, had their lives irrevocably changed on June 21st after becoming disfigured in an acid attack in East London. Sparking a nationwide debate, the rise of acid attacks in the UK is now under the spotlight.

Jameel Mukhtar and Resham Khan were on their way out to celebrate Resham’s 21st birthday. As they were waiting at a traffic light in East London, a stranger knocked on their window and then proceeded to throw acid across them both. The attack on the two Muslim cousins is being treated as a hate crime.

Resham, who was hoping to begin a career as a model, has written a letter to the public from hospital, alongside a petition, calling for tougher restrictions over purchasing corrosive substances, which can currently be bought and carried legally. Her letter asks:

“Why are acids the new street weapon? Because corrosive substances are readily available in-store and online for as little as £6.50 and the laws surrounding possession is loose.”

Since 2010, almost 2,000 acid attacks have been reported in London alone. Almost a third of these attacks occurred in the borough of Newham, east London. The majority of these cases have not led to trial, with 74% of cases being shelved due to victims being unable to identify perpetrators.

On  July 13th, five attacks were carried out in succession across London by young boys on stolen mopeds. Some of victims were delivery drivers on mopeds, prompting a protest from drivers across the workforce. Delivery drivers are targets of regular motor-vehicle robberies, which are increasingly involving acid attacks which aim to debilitate victims.

Across the world, victims of acid attacks are disproportionately female, often carried out by partners or ex-partners, or even family members in cases of ‘honour’ based violence. However, in the UK both the perpetrators and victims are mostly young men. Experts have suggested one reason for the increase has been tougher regulations on the availability of guns and knives, making acid an attractive and easily available alternative.

In order to stop these attacks, people are calling for stricter laws and regulations when it comes to buying and possessing acid. One solution would be to upgrade acid to a restricted substance, meaning a licence is required for purchase.  The police have been provided with rapid response kits in order to be able to treat victims of attacks as quickly as possible at the scene of the crime.

While not all the victims are Muslim, in wake of these attacks, particularly that on the aforementioned Jameel Muhktar and Resham Khan, many Muslims have expressed fear at being in public or event leaving their house, specifically in east London.

This comes at a time of increasing Islamophobia and reports of incidents of hate crime in the wake of both the Brexit referendum and the terrorist attacks that occurred within quick succession this year. Tell MAMA found that racist incidents increased 530% in the week following the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert, and reported a 240% increase in anti-Muslim hate in the seven-day period following the London Bridge attack on June 3.

Last weekend, in Southampton, two Muslim women were victims of a “spoof” acid attack in which they were sprayed with water. This suggests some attacks are being used to incite terror within the Muslim community and prevent them from feeling safe or accepted within society.

Many on social media have highlighted that if these attacks, such as the five attacks carried out on July 13th, were perpetrated by Muslims on white passers-by, the media reaction would have been internationally sensationalised, and they would have immediately been declared as terrorist incidents.

Jameel Mukhtar has himself addressed this issue on Channel 4 News, saying:

“If this was an Asian guy like myself, going up to an English couple in a car and acid attacking them, I know for a fact,and the whole country knows, that it would be classed as a terror attack,”

Although the attack is being investigated as a hate crime, little attention has been drawn to the extremist motivations of this attack. The perpetrator, 24 year old John Tomlin, had previously made posts expressing solidarity with far-right extremists on Facebook. These include posts shared in 2015 that say: “A sleeping lion can only be provoked so much before it wakes up and attacks…and so will us British,” and “We will stand and we will fight. We will reclaim what is rightfully ours. We will not surrender.”

At JAN Trust, we run an online support tool www.saynotohatecrime.org that provides victims a direct link to report crimes, and gives recovery advice alongside access to support networks. As long time campaigners against Islamophobia and violence against women and girls, we offer advice and support to anyone suffering in silence.

We also work hard to highlight the underestimated rise in extremism including far right extremism, and our award winning Web Guardians™ programme.

Burkini ban busted!

Nearly two weeks ago, mayors in about 30 French coastal resorts decided to impose a ban on the burkini (A burkini is a type of swimming costume that some Muslim women wear, which covers the arms, legs and hair). The ban prohibited women from wearing a burkini on public beaches or in the sea. If the ban was violated, a fine would have to be paid. Mayor Villeneuve-Loubet argued that in light of the recent attack on Nice it was ‘necessary, appropriate and proportionate’ to implement the ban in order to prevent public disorder. A French NGO, Human Rights League, and the Collective against Islamophobia in France challenged the ban arguing that the mayors had no right telling women what they can and cannot wear on beaches. They were successful and last week the burkini ban was overturned by France’s top court which ruled that the ban ‘violates basic freedoms.’ However, the mayors are refusing to lift the ban. The ban was also condemned by the UN who described it as “a grave and illegal breach of fundamental freedoms” and a “stupid reaction” to recent extremist attacks.

Within the French cabinet, most supported the ban but there was some disagreement over it. The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that, “For me the burkini is a symbol of the enslavement of women.” Both the Education Minister and the Health Minister, Marisol Touraine, spoke out against the ban. The former said that the debate was fuelling racist rhetoric whilst the latter wrote on her website that “To pretend that swimming veiled or bathing on a beach dressed is in itself threatening to public order and the values of the Republic is to forget that those (secular) values are meant to allow each person to safeguard their identity.”

The burkini ban reached its climax last week when a photo was published of a Muslim woman on a beach in France surrounded by armed Police officers who made her take off her burkini. This sparked widespread furore which led to a protest against the ban outside of the French embassy in London in the form of a beach party. Despite being organised last-minute the protest received a lot of attention. Women in the city came together to show their solidarity with French Muslim women. The Mayor of London even spoke out against the ban telling the Evening Standard newspaper that “I’m quite firm on this. I don’t think anyone should tell women what they can and can’t wear. Full stop. It’s as simple as that”.

Mayor Villeneuve-Loubet’s claim that there is a security threat from women who show their religious affiliation is untrue. It is utterly absurd to link a piece of clothing with terrorism and in fact it is irresponsible to do so. The burkini ban is anecdotal of France’s rampant Islamophobia particularly against visibly Muslim women and follows the country’s ban on wearing the veil. There has been a wave of conservatism sweeping Europe and the rest of the world. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives are calling for a partial ban on the niqab, whilst in Austria right-wing politicians have called for a ban on the burqa. In Switzerland there are calls for a popular vote on a ban on the burqa. Civil liberties are being curtailed on the pretext of national security which is very worrying.

State-sponsored Islamophobia is weakening community cohesion and has the potential to sow the seeds for conflict and hatred. The argument that the burkini is oppressive is offensive and ignores the fact that many women choose to wear the swimsuit because it allows them to go to a public beach or pool and swim and feel comfortable whilst doing so. It encourages social integration and can help overcome certain communities from being socially excluded. In the UK, many leisure centres hold women’s only swimming sessions where women of no faith and women of faith can swim. For many women from faith communities this enables them to undertake a healthy activity.

JAN Trust has done a lot of work on fostering community cohesion. Our experience of working on community engagement and community cohesion, as a charitable organisation, includes the delivery of training, projects and services aimed at socially and economically empowering women. For example, through our City and Guilds Fashion course and our IT for Beginners course we are not only skilling women but helping them to acquire the knowledge and tools to enter today’s challenging workforce. At the same time we are also promoting the enhancement of women as active members of society. Through our training, projects and services we are enabling independence and resilience by building the skills, resources and capacities of the BAMER community. Many of our women have gone on to become employed, self-employed or started volunteering.

We have also delivered a number of workshops across the country encouraging civic awareness amongst grassroots communities. In 2008, JAN trust organised Haringey’s first community cohesion conference called ‘One Community Many Voices’ (2008). The conference gave members of the public, in particular BAMER women, the opportunity to question the leader of the Council, their local Member of Parliament, the relevant portfolio holder for Communities and the local Police force.

If you’re interested in our work to promote community cohesion, please get in contact with us.

Director in Time Out magazine

In April 2017, Sajda featured in Time Out's weekly series 'My London Story' feature to talk about her experience of quitting life in The City to work towards prevent radicalisation and online extremism. To read a copy of the article, follow this link.

Director on Lorraine Show

On the 23rd of March 2017, Sajda appeared on popular ITV morning show Lorraine to discuss the Westminster attacks and her personal experience of 7/7. She spoke about her difficulty re-living the attacks when tragedies such as the Westminster attack take place and the emotions she felt watching similar scenes unfold. In spite of the tragedy, Sajda noted that it was heartening to see Londoners coming together after the attack and helping each other, rather than falling victim to the divisive rhetorical the terrorists want to achieve.


You can watch the full interview here.

Empowering Mothers – A Bottom-Up Approach to Defeating Terrorism

BBC Inside Outaired a special episode on the 4th of September on the effects that recent UK terror attacks have had on us all. As the only Muslim 7/7 survivor, I was invited onto the show to tell my story, and explain how I have now dedicated my life to fighting online extremism.

As part of an exclusive YouGov poll ran for BBC Inside Out, the people of England were asked if they thought the terrorism threat was higher in 2017 than ever before. 90% said yes. BBC highlighted that actually, deaths from terrorism were falling, with 90 killed between 2000-2015 vs. over 1,000 from 1985-1999. This is of little condolence to the victims of recent attacks, and for the public at large due to the fear and xenophobia these attacks have instilled.

20% of people from the Midlands area responded to the YouGov poll saying that they were more afraid at large events and on public transport, 21% said they are less likely to attend any events at a concert hall or stadium, and 29% said they feel less safe in public areas.

Manchester Arena attack survivor, Kim Dick, told BBC that when she travelled to London she suffered from panic attacks on transport, terrified of everyone she saw with a backpack. BBC reporter Holly Jones, who narrowly missed becoming a fatal victim of the London Bridge attack, described her past self as sociable, but claims now she is anxious, stressed and more suspicious of other people.

I can empathise with this anxiety and fear, as I told BBC Inside Out: “each time an attack happens I relive the experience. You watch the videos of what people have filmed, you see the people running and the screams, and it takes me right back to 7/7.”

The exclusive poll also revealed that 52% of people across England, but only 44% of Londoners, agree that the security services should be given more powers to defeat terrorism, even if this meant sacrifices to our personal privacy. As I told BBC, I do not believe that this is the most effective way to defeating terrorism:

“We need a bottom-up approach. Those who are being radicalised are being brainwashed, so we need to change those hearts, and change those minds… we cannot put the reliance on police solely to defeat terrorism, as ultimately, this will not change those hearts and minds.”

Pioneering this bottom-up approach to fighting terrorism, our charity JAN Trust launched our award winning Web Guardians™ programme, which educates mothers on preventing and tackling online extremism with their children and loved ones.

It is likely that all of the recent attackers, both Muslim extremists and far-right extremists, were exposed to online propaganda and communication with recruiters that served to radicalise them. Richard Walton, former Head of Counter-Terrorism Command within the Metropolitan Police, told BBC: “it is inconceivable that there wasn’t a use of social media apps to connect those who carried out these attacks with terrorists from the Islamic State.”

BBC reporters posed as young British Muslims interested in joining jihad in Syria, and were met with support from IS recruiters who directed them to encrypted messaging services. From there they provided a link on the dark web to an online terrorist manual which detailed how to use a vehicle to carry out an attack, and what body parts to target when using a knife to inflict fatal injuries. IS recruiters suggested the young boy conduct a lone wolf attack and ‘kill normal people’ from within the UK, and even suggested Westminster and London Bridge as key targets as they were ‘crowded with disbelievers and civilians’, providing evidence that the 2017 attacks were planned by online ISIS recruiters.

This is hard evidence that the threat of online radicalisation is real and dangerous. It was clear to me that such a huge threat cannot go on being ignored.

We have won many awards and for our Web Guardians™ programme, which seeks to empower women to be at the frontlines of the fight against extremism from within their own homes, but we need support to continue this vitally needed work. Support would mean the programme can continue to change the hearts and minds of potential terrorists and innocent lives can be saved.

Far-right extremism: Europe has seen this before, the time to act is now.

This past weekend, far-right activists and counter-protesters clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia in the US. The protests escalated and one of the far-right protesters drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, leaving 1 dead and 19 injured. The man has now been charged with murder.

The brutal murder of Heather Heyer, 32, which took place at a “Unite the Right” gathering, is just the latest disturbing proof that the far-right, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, should be considered a real threat. We often hear about Muslim extremists, but the media rarely covers the rise of far-right extremism to the same extent. The group in Charlottesville were planning to rally around a Confederate statue that the city council had planned to remove, claiming that its removal was “an effort to erase white history”. The number of attendees is estimated at between 500 and 1,000 people, making “Unite the Right” one of the largest gatherings of its kind in decades, bringing together a plethora of white nationalist groups for the first time.

While there are many terms for the far right hate groups that gathered in Charlottesville, they have one thing in common: they are often violently racist. If people do not band together to stop the far-right in their rapid advance, they will only grow stronger and more confident. It is widely known that a significant part of Trump’s supporters are known white supremacists. The fact that the US President failed to immediately denounce these groups by name shows how institutionalised this ideology has become. Rather, Donald Trump’s initial statement blamed ‘many sides’ for the violence. After two days of considerable political pressure, he conceded and specifically denounced white supremacy. The next day, however, he was back to blaming ‘both sides’, noting that on each side of the protest existed ‘very fine people’, and used the far-right term ‘alt-left’ to describe anti-racism counter protestors. Several white nationalists expressed their gratitude that Trump did not immediately condemn them. Former KKK leader, David Duke, wrote on Twitter: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa [Black Lives Matter/Anti-Fascists]”. This is clear evidence of how Trump’s position as president empowers the far-right.

When figures of authority, such as Trump, are hesitant to denounce the horrible actions and values that the far-right stand for, they will continue with impunity. Media coverage, and their move to unify fractured groups, helps their values and ideas gain traction. Studies showthat young people in America are increasingly exposed to far-right extremist content online. All of these different factors, especially in the context of the country’s polarised political spectrum, contribute to the rising threat of the far-right.

These incidents, and the attitudes held by the people causing them, should set off alarm bells and flashing lights. These people are walking around in the streets with swastika-flags, shouting “Heil Trump!” and making Nazi-salutes. They are not hiding what they stand for. Yet, some people refuse to see how dangerous the far-right is becoming. They bury their heads in the sand and ignore the alarm bells. Have we already forgotten how Hitler rose to power and the horrible events that his rule brought about? Have we forgotten our responsibility as citizens and leaders to take on dangerous groups like these, who champion white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and hatred of anyone different from themselves?

At JAN Trust, we work tirelessly to fight radicalisation and attitudes like the ones expressed at “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville. We see daily the abuse that minorities and vulnerable people suffer, especially in terms of racism and Islamophobia. Our work aims to fight hate crime, online extremism, and to support vulnerable and minority women. Through the work we do, we are taking on our part of the responsibility in defeating attitudes like these – are you doing your part?

You can support our work and learn more by visiting www.jantrust.org.

Fighting extremism 11 years on after the London bombings

Tomorrow marks the 11th anniversary of the London bombings, a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bomb attacks in Central London that killed 52 people and injured many more. As we remember those who lost their lives, and those who were injured on that terrible day 11 years ago, we chat with our Director, Sajda Mughal OBE, a survivor of the 7/7 bombings, about that fateful day and how it changed her life.

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the London bombings. How does it make you feel thinking about that day 11 years on? Are you still affected by it, and if so, how?

It’s been 11 years but I am still haunted by what happened to me on that day. It’s a day I will never ever forget. It changed my life forever. Tragedy struck that day in the form of an indiscriminate attack which resulted in innocent lives being lost. Every year, around the anniversary of 7/7, I suffer flashbacks and on a day-to-day basis I try to avoid travelling on the tube because I still find it very difficult. It brings back memories of my tragic journey to work that morning. Had my OCD of wanting to sit on the first carriage got the better of me I wouldn’t be alive today. Germaine Lindsay detonated his bomb 10 seconds after the train departed Kings Cross, killing innocent people and injuring many more. I am fortunate to be alive today and to be able to make a difference by trying to prevent such an attack from happening again.

You have spoken in the media countless times about what happened to you that day and how it changed your life. Can you tell us a bit about how exactly it changed your life and motivated you to do the work you have been doing for the last 11 years?

The London bombings changed my life completely. Before that day I was working in the corporate sector working my way up the career ladder and earning a good salary. I was in a good job but what I experienced set me on a new path.

I was left bewildered after the attack. I just couldn’t comprehend why someone would choose do such an awful thing. I wanted to find out who the suicide bombers were. When I read about them, and discovered that they called themselves Muslim my first thought was how can they call themselves Muslim because this was not the Islam I knew. I then thought about their families, particularly their mothers, and what they must be thinking. My mother is so important to me and I couldn’t imagine the pain and anguish she would feel if one of her children were to do such a thing.

In 2008, I joined JAN Trust, a multi-award winning charity working at the grassroots with women and young people from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities. The charity already had well-established links with mothers from communities affected by the issue of radicalisation and extremism. I wanted to work with these mothers because I saw them as the key to tackling radicalisation and extremism. In Islam a huge amount of respect is conferred upon mothers. We believe that heaven lies at the feet of your mother, and so I felt that working with Muslim mothers was the right way to go if we wanted to really address the issue of radicalisation and extremism. We conducted research and consultations over a number of years on Internet Extremism which we then used to design and develop our highly acclaimed Web Guardians© programme. We have been and continue to be at the forefront of working with women and mothers to tackle radicalisation.

There are organisations that are now realising, years later, that it is by engaging with families that we can address this issue, but JAN Trust has been doing this for the last 10 years with a genuine passion, commitment and dedication to making a difference. It’s what we’ve been saying all along and our experience of working with mothers who have challenged extremism from within the home has guided our work on de-radicalisation. We have campaigned that mothers are central to the fight against radicalisation and extremism. If they are provided with the right support, in terms of knowledge and skills from an organisation such as ours, with the knowledge, expertise and genuine interest and concern, they can be  empowered to challenge extremism.

One of the main issues you work on with women and young people is preventing radicalisation and extremism. Do you see any relationship between hate groups and Far-right ideological violence?

Yes, as well as working with women and mothers to address the issue of radicalisation and extremism we also work with schools with students, parents, teachers and governors on safeguarding against extremism. I think that the rise in Far-right violence is proof that there is a relationship between hate groups and Far-right ideological violence and there have been warnings from groups such as ourselves and Hope Not Hate about this.

A few weeks ago, we saw the tragic and brutal death of Labour MP Jo Cox who was killed by a man that was inspired by Far-right ideology. There are other examples such as Anders Brevik who sympathised with the views of Tommy Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), and Pavlo Lapshyn who murdered Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham.

We have continuously highlighted the threat that Far-right poses in our work with women and schools. We need to address the threat of Far-right extremism and ensure all forms of extremism are taken seriously not just extremist acts by people who claim to be Muslim.

What do you think needs to be done to tackle extremism? What is the way forward?

As I’ve just mentioned I think that all forms of extremism should be taken seriously – this is the first thing because extremism is not specific to a faith, race or ethnicity and it affects everybody as we’ve seen with terrorist acts being committed all over the world. By addressing one form of extremism, you alienate people, you make them feel marginalised which exacerbates the problem and you prevent yourself from being able to engage with communities because they don’t trust you.

I’m an advocate of the bottom-up approach. I believe it’s important to engage with communities, to understand what they are thinking and feeling in order to identify the root causes of the problem and then work with them to design the appropriate solutions. Our Web Guardians© programme has shown that this is the most effective way to tackle radicalisation and extremism. The feedback from professionals and women and mothers who have attended the programme confirm this. On lady told us“When I first came to the course I didn’t know that much about the internet or radicalisation and extremism but now I’ve learnt a lot. I can teach my children, and my grandchildren. I can show them the way because this issue affects everyone in the family and someone who is thinking of going to Syria must know this.’

We were told at the end of one session by a lady working for a local council “Thank you for today’s session. It was great. One of the mothers has her son in the Channel programme. This was hard hitting for her and will help.”

I would also say that another reason we have been effective is because the women and young people we work with are able to identify with us coming from the same religious and a similar cultural background. We understand the challenges they face. This immediately creates an atmosphere where honest debate and discussion about a highly sensitive and highly contentious issue can take place.

Honour-based crimes and why they are incompatible with Islam

Honour-based crimes have come to be associated with Islam. The term ‘honour’ refers to the belief that a daughter or wife has brought shame upon the family and surrounding community by committing an “immoral” behaviour. The  horrific nature of this crime still garners much attention from the media -the latest being the murder of a 16-year old girl in Pakistan by her family members after marrying someone her family did not approve of. Another horrific incident in Pakistan occurred in which a man electrocuted his sister to death for marrying someone of her choice. As a result of increasing awareness of the prevalence of these crimes in Pakistan, law was passed against ‘honour killings’ in October but legislative changes are only half the battle, much more has to be done, especially to change attitudes.

In the UK honour killings are particularly shocking, with up to 12 occurring every year. One such case was that of Banaz Mahmod in 2006, who was murdered by her father and uncle for leaving her arranged marriage and beginning a relationship with another man.

As Honour killings largely occur in Muslim countries or within Muslim communtiies this has been misinterpreted to mean that Islam condones such actions. However, n the Quran it states:

“Whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them.” (4:93).

Clearly it is a misconception that Islam condones honour killings. In Islam the murder of women is not condoned under any circumstance.

In the UK many women are scared to report such instances and when they are reported there is an extremely low rate of prosecution. From 2011 to 2016 there were 7,048 reports made to police of honour-based crimes and just 3% of these actually resulted in charges. This is due to a lack of appropriate support for women in these situations. In fact, in the UK there is no specific legislation against honour-based crime, it can fall under murder, rape and other charges, which arguably fails to recognise the specific nuances of this crime and difficulties that women may face in coming forward or bringing charges.

These crimes are abhorrent and should be recognised in society as a clear abuse of human rights. In order to do this attitudes need to change. The JAN Trust provides training on Honour Based Violence (HBV). If you are interesting in attending or arranging training please contact the trust on info@jantrust.org. Honour-based crimes can also be linked to forced marriages, our website Against Forced Marriages offers support for vulnerable women.

JAN Trust featured in Arab News

In an article which explored the importance of online radicalisation in causing violent extremism and terror attacks, our award winning Web Guardians™ course was referenced. It highlights how radicalisation has changed, where today individuals are radicalised alone, often seeking out extremist material and 'self-radicalising' rather than being groomed within a group.

They offer our work here at JAN Trust as part of the solution, helping to educate mothers on how to protect their children from the dangers of online extremism.

 

Read the article here.

JAN Trust in Press

Our work was recently featured in the BBC News and radio. Our Director, Sajda Mughal, spoke of the need to stop some young Muslims being radicalised via their mothers. The piece covered our Web Guardians(c) programme equipping mothers with the key skills to go online and be able to safeguard their children and society.Our work was recently featured in the BBC News and radio. Our Director, Sajda Mughal, spoke of the need to stop some young Muslims being radicalised via their mothers. The piece covered our Web Guardians(c) programme equipping mothers with the key skills to go online and be able to safeguard their children and society.

Press also spoke to some of the mothers who were part of the programme in London and how it helped them and their children. The article is below and the radio coverage and be heard here: CLICK HERE

The only Muslim survivor of the 7/7 bombings says she is desperate to stop young Muslims being radicalised. And now Sajda Mughal has herself found a radical solution to extremism: Muslim mothers.

Ms Mughal has spent most of her adult life fighting Islamic extremism.

On 7 July 2005 she was running late and had taken the Piccadilly line to her job in the City.

She believes there was just one other Muslim on board her Tube train - Germaine Lindsay, whose bomb was to kill 27 people on board, including himself.

Ms Mughal says: "What happened on 7/7 basically made me think about why those four had carried out the attack, and in what ideology, which was obviously an incorrect ideology."

'Society's nurturers'

Now 31, she is director of the JAN Trust, which provides support and advice to women she describes as coming from the margins of society: "Often they have no education, no English and no employment."

Last month the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said Muslim children who are at risk of being radicalised by their parents should be taken into care.

But Ms Mughal's solution to the problem of radicalisation is the creation of a group of Muslim mothers to fight on the front line of the battle against extremist ideology in Islam.

One of the JAN Trust's declared aims is to "empower women as society's nurturers", and its latest scheme, called the Web Guardians, aims to give the mothers of young Muslims the online know-how to stop children being radicalised behind their own bedroom doors.

Ms Mughal explains the philosophy behind the programme: "We are equipping these Muslim mothers with the key skills, with the knowledge in order for them to go online and to monitor their children.

"But we provide them with a counter-narrative for them to have discussions with the children in a safe offline environment."

In a downstairs room at the JAN Trust's office near Alexandra Palace in north London, seven women sit in a circle.

As well as Ms Mughal and her interpreter there are mothers whose families originate from disparate Muslim communities.
Sajda Mughal receiving an award

Sajda Mughal is determined to combat Islamic fundamentalism

Sajda Mughal is determined to combat Islamic fundamentalism

Zahra is Somali; Maryam is Palestinian; Muneer comes from Iran; and Samina and Seema are both Pakistani.

As well as their Muslim faith, what they have in common are teenage children.

Maryam tells of her son's anger with the situation in Gaza, where her family come from: "When they see the way things are going, it wasn't right. It's double standards."

'Grievance about Syria'

As she speaks the others nod their heads in tacit sympathy.

"But now they go for Syria. My son was in a demonstration for Syria because they say something is not right," says Maryam.

All the women say their teenagers are curious and often angry about events in the countries where their families orginated, as well as being keen to do something.

The places most often up for discussions are Syria, Iran and Egypt.

In the past this anger on the part of young Muslims have been channelled into radicalisation. But Ms Mughal believes these mothers' interventions with their children could stop that happening in the future.

She says mothers are a much greater influence than the mosque or school attended by teenagers.

Ms Mughal says of Maryam: " Her son has a grievance about Syria, but he has channelled it positively by attending a demonstration rather than destructively".

A study by the JAN Trust found more than 90% of the Muslim mothers it spoke to lacked web access, and were unaware what their teenage children were viewing online.

The Web Guardians project teaches mothers how to use the web before they learn how to look at their children's internet history.

Part of the course involves exposing them to the violent language and imagery used by extremist websites, with shocking results for some of them.

Ms Mughal's interpreter, Rafaat, a Muslim mother herself, told of the horrified reactions when they first saw such pictures: "When the photographs were shown there was silence and all of sudden I could hear… wow, what's happening?"

These mothers' shared experiences suggest this project might genuinely help prevent the radicalisation of some young Muslims.

JAN Trust in Press

Our Director, Sajda Mughal, recently featured in The Evening Standard Newspaper speaking about her experience as a 7th July 2005 London bombings survivor as well as her work with JAN Trust and the need to empower mothers to safeguard their children and society.Our Director, Sajda Mughal, recently featured in The Evening Standard Newspaper speaking about her experience as a 7th July 2005 London bombings survivor as well as her work with JAN Trust and the need to empower mothers to safeguard their children and society.

The full article can be read here and below: CLICK HERE

On July 7, 2005, Sajda Mughal was on her way to work. Every morning she took the Piccadilly line westbound towards Holborn, where she changed to the Central line to head to her office at Bank. But that day,  Jermaine Lindsay was on her train. Between King’s Cross and Russell Square he detonated a bomb. Twenty-six other passengers were killed.

Mughal, who was 22 at the time, is the only known Muslim survivor of 7/7. After the terrorist attack she gave up a career in recruitment to fight extremism. “I believed I was going to die down there,” Mughal, now 31, says. “So when I came out alive, I felt I had been given a second chance. Finding out it was caused by a Muslim changed everything for me.”

Instead of making her question her faith, though, 7/7 drew her further into it. “We have a strong belief in Islam that God writes things for you: when someone is born, their death has also been written. It wasn’t written for me to go that day. But the experience brought me to find out more about my faith.”

It also made her desperate to stop young Muslims being radicalised. It’s a subject that was again in the spotlight last week, when it emerged that a science teacher in Bolton had been charged with preparing to help others commit acts of terrorism in Syria.

“This ideology that you need to carry out a jihad to help your brothers and sisters abroad needs to change. It saddens and frustrates me that there is this small minority who influence individuals to carry out attacks when Islam is a peaceful religion.”

At Mughal’s office opposite Alexandra Palace station her nine-month-old daughter is sleeping in the next room. This is the headquarters of the JAN Trust, a women’s charity that local MP Lynne Featherstone has dubbed “a mini-United Nations” as it caters mostly for women from ethnic minorities, including refugees and asylum-seekers. Many of these women don’t speak English and lack skills — the charity’s aim is to help them integrate into society, teaching English, numeracy and how to write a CV.

Mughal, who also has a four-year-old daughter, is a director at JAN and the brains behind its “web guardians” project, which aims to stop young people being radicalised. “Online there’s this whole world of videos and games that incite hate. And there are chat rooms that contain people who groom kids on extremist paths.” Having launched in Haringey, the project will soon be rolled out to other boroughs.

Mughal, who talks about 7/7 in schools, sees a desperate need for this project. “I’ve had Muslim — and non-Muslim — kids come up to me afterwards and say, ‘Miss! We can sympathise [with the bombers]’,” she says. “The Muslim youth today have a number of grievances. Foreign policy: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel, now Syria. Then there are the unmanned drone attacks, Guantánamo and cases of soldiers abusing civilians. This project says we understand there are these grievances and that they are sympathising with this ideology but that this mindset needs to change.”

So how do you persuade these children that violence is not the answer? “Dialogue,” Mughal responds. “You put them in the position of, ‘Well, I was in 7/7. It could have been your mother, your sister, your cousin’. You show them that they can channel these grievances in a democratic manner, as opposed to destructively. That means through social media, lobbying or petitioning — not violence.”

Unless these conversations are had, Mughal believes we risk the young turning to the internet to understand their Islamic identity. She cites Roshonara Choudhry, the Newham-born student who stabbed Stephen Timms MP in 2010 and stated she had spent hours watching videos from Anwar al-Awlaki, the “spiritual leader” of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Sometimes, Mughal says, the children ask: “But what about the jihad?”

“You’ve got to debunk that. Jihad isn’t about fighting, it’s about making a sacrifice. I might say: ‘I’m not going to drink tea all day, that’s my jihad’. There’s a huge misconception about the term.”

But Mughal thinks she knows the ultimate tool to fight extremism: mothers. The JAN Trust recently found that three-quarters of mothers had seen or heard their children accessing Islamic lectures but they did not know the content. And 92 per cent did not know what online radicalisation was, while a similar number didn’t know how to get online at all. “We want to help these women become role models. So we’re teaching them IT skills and about the dangers of the internet but also equipping them to discuss extremism with their children offline. That way the mother can safeguard her child and help prevent further attacks.”

Through her work, Mughal also challenges a problem running parallel to extremism: Islamophobia. She says the recent debate about veils brought out underlying prejudices. “I don’t think Islamophohia is decreasing. The Muslim women we help tell us about the problems they face day to day — just travelling on the Tube or bus or their children getting bullied in school or their husbands facing discrimination at work.”

Before 7/7, Mughal was a typical north London twentysomething. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, she came here aged one and grew up in Haringey. “I was a Muslim but I didn’t have much involvement with the community,” she admits. “I was very career-focused.”

On the day of the bombings, Mughal was running late for that job. “The whole journey, I was thinking ‘Hurry up, hurry up!’,” she recalls. “The train left King’s Cross and then we went into the tunnel and there was a massive bang.”

It was rush hour and the Tube was packed. “People who were standing up fell to the ground; even those of us sitting down fell forward.”

Mughal says her mind went blank. “I was frozen. All the lights had gone out, so all we had were the faint emergency lights. There was no announcement. No one was telling us what had happened.”

Black smoke started to fill the carriage. “People were screaming, panicking, some were crying. I could hear people banging on the windows. We didn’t know what was going on outside the train. Were the tracks live? So I just stood there.”

Mughal thought the train had hit something or had been derailed. “Then I thought, ‘The next Tube leaving King’s Cross is just going to hit us — we’ll have a massive explosion and we’ll all burn to death’. In times of need, people of faith become more religious and that’s what I started to do. I said, ‘Please God, don’t let this be it. Don’t let July 7, 2005, be it’.”

It was only when she heard police coming towards their carriage that she knew she was going to survive. She and the other passengers were then evacuated through King’s Cross. “At that point I just wanted to be alone,” she recalls. “There was a McDonald’s opposite and I went across to calm my nerves and sit alone.”

She couldn’t reach any of her family on her mobile so she started walking back home. “It took hours. On the way I went into a newsagent and I heard another customer say, ‘They’re saying it’s a bomb’. I thought, ‘No, it can’t be’. I couldn’t contemplate it being a bomb.

“It was a lot for me to deal with mentally: finding out that some people had died and others had lost their limbs, then finding out it was a bomb, and then that it was carried out by four men who happened to be Muslim and had that warped ideology.”

It took her “a long while” to get back on the Tube. Initially, she couldn’t travel alone. “I needed counselling, time and support. Even now when I have meetings in town and I have to go through King’s Cross I start remembering. When July 7 comes around every year, I don’t want to travel on the Tube.” She has flashbacks, too.

Still, Mughal believes the experience has given her purpose. “When I look back, I think, ‘If I hadn’t been running late, I wouldn’t have gone through that’. But then I wouldn’t be doing what I am now.”

JAN Trust in Press

Our Director, Sajda Mughal, recently featured in The Daily Telegraph Newspaper speaking about her experience as a 7th July 2005 London bombings survivor as well as her work with JAN Trust and the need to empower mothers to safeguard their children and society. She also spoke about the rise of Islamophobia in the UK.

The full article can be read here and the pod cast can be heard here: CLICK HERE

JT featured on the BBC's Inside Out

Our director Sajda Mughal, appeared on the BBC's Inside Out, in their special episode detailing the effects of the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. Sajda explains how grassroots methods, such as JAN Trust's counter extremism course, Web Guardians™, are part of a much needed 'bottom-up approach', that recognises 'that those who are being radicalised are being brainwashed- so we need to change those hearts and change those minds'. She added that we could not 'put reliance on police solely to defeat terrorism, as it will not ultimately change those hearts and minds.'

Watch the piece here.

JT in Eastern Eye

Our CEO Sajda Mughal appeared in the Eastern Eye newspaper to talk about her 7/7 experience and the flashbacks she still suffers as a result of her traumatic experience. She also spoke about the key work that she is doing through her Web Guardians™ programme, and the need for support through funding to continue it.

To view the piece, click here.

JT on BBC News

"We can't be defeated. We can't let this lone attack change our lives so that we live in fear." Sajda spoke about giving up her career in the City in the wake of the 7/7 attacks and urged Londoners to come together and overcome the Westminster attack in March as we did 12 years ago.

You can watch a clip on our YouTube account here.

JT on BBC SML

On the 9th of July, BBC Sunday Morning Live featured our CEO Sajda Mughal and our Web Guardians™ programme. Sajda spoke about her experience of the 7/7 bombings, marking the 12 year anniversary. She also spoke about her pioneering Web Guardians™ programme. The piece also featured some women and mothers who had taken part in our Web Guardians™ programme and they described how the programme had made a difference in them protecting their children from being radicalised online.

To view the piece, click here.

JT on Sky News

On the anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London, our CEO Sajda Mughal appeared on Sky News to speak about her experience on that day and about what needs to be done to prevent radicalisation and further attacks focusing our on highly acclaimed Web Guardians™ programme working with and supporting Muslim women and mothers to prevent and tackle radicalisation and online extremism

To view the live news piece, click here.

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