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

Islamophobia,

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.

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 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 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

JAN Trust opinion on Brexit

It’s been five days since the result of the EU Referendum that took place last week, yet the effects are still being felt. The country is in disarray. The results were close with 51.9% voting to leave the EU and 48.1% voting to remain, showing that the country is heavily polarised. Following the results, on Friday morning, the Prime Minister announced that he would be resigning stating in his resignation speech that “The country requires fresh leadership …” This was followed by the intensification of in-party fighting within the Labour Party. Meanwhile, on Facebook, articles were popping up about the rise in the number of hate crimes being reported and video footage of racist incidents since Brexit.

Over the weekend, we at JAN Trust felt it necessary to tell our users that should they or someone they know experience hate crimes or hate incidents to call the Police in an emergency or report it using the online form on our website http://www.saynotohatecrime.org. It would appear that the result of the referendum has legitimised such overt expressions of hatred. As someone wrote on Facebook, referring to this increased racism “… let’s face it, things were already like this before Brexit, but we have had our heads in the sand about it far too often.” JAN Trust is only too aware of this, having worked to tackle deep-rooted racism, both overt and covert, directed at women from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) backgrounds since it was established in 1989. We have done a lot of work to challenge discrimination but also to build community cohesion.

It is important to note that not all those who voted to leave the EU hold racist and xenophobic views but immigration was a key concern for a number of those who voted to leave. The Leave campaign played on peoples fear of immigration arguing that whilst it was a member of the EU, Britain would be unable to control its own borders and in turn who came into the country. However, there were other reasons too which led the majority to vote to leave the EU and these must be carefully analysed and responded to in the right way.

An article by Matthew Goodwin, Associate Fellow, Europe Programme at Chatham House, in Politico magazine, titled ‘Inequality not personalities drove Britain to Brexit’ explores the factors that led to Brexit by taking a look at voting patterns which according to Goodwin show a country deeply divided along three lines: social class, generation, and geography. Immediately after the results were announced, the generational divide was highlighted with older voters choosing leave and younger voters choosing overwhelmingly to remain. However, since then discussion has moved on to inequality in Britain and millions who were deeply affected by austerity who mostly voted to leave, with Goodwin writing that “Brexit owed less to personal charisma than to a deep sense of angst, alienation and resentment amongst the financially disadvantaged” who have been hit hard by austerity. He gives the example of Boston in the East Midlands where 76% of those who voted wanted Britain to leave the EU. Boston is known for its high economic deprivation.

Again, JAN Trust is very familiar with the underlying causes and effects of poverty, deprivation and inequality. Since our creation, our work has focused on tackling these issues within the BAMER community at grassroots level.

In the same article, Goodwin also acknowledges the support for Brexit from those living in more leafy, affluent Conservative areas but there was also support from left-wingers who voted to leave the EU project in a stand against its imposition of neoliberal austerity.

What is clear to us at JAN Trust is that it is now more important than ever for all these issues to be taken seriously by politicians. They must break down the barriers which have led to this deep polarisation of British society and develop policies which aim to create a fairer and more inclusive democracy.

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

Press coverage - Mirror

The Mirror published a piece on our Director's 7/7 near death experience and the tireless work she has been carrying out since then with grass roots communities. The article can be found here as well as below:

I survived the 7/7 bombings and now I work to stop young people being drawn into extremism

That tube shouldn’t have been my tube, but I was running late. I worked in investment banking and I did that journey on the Piccadilly line every single day.

My routine was, without fail, to get on the first carriage. But that day I got on in the middle of the train. Had I got on my usual carriage, I may not be here today – that was the one Germaine Lindsay blew up with his bomb.

That fateful day

It was rush hour so the train was packed. It left Kings Cross and 10 seconds into the tunnel, it happened. A massive explosion, the biggest bang I’ve ever heard.

The whole train shook, everyone fell forward, it went dark and the emergency lights kicked in. Smoke started to fill the carriage and it was hard to breathe, so I took my jacket off to make a veil. People were screaming and trying to break the glass to escape but I was just frozen in shock.

It didn’t even cross my mind that it might be a bomb. I thought we’d derailed and my mind was racing, thinking, "Another train is going to crash into us and there’ll be a fireball and we’re going to burn to death".

I was preparing myself to die. My thoughts went to growing up, my family, my life was flashing in front of my eyes. I hadn’t said goodbye to my loved ones, I hadn’t got married, had children or travelled the world.

We were down there 40 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. Eventually I heard the distant voice of a policeman saying, "We’re coming to get you". 

My heart had felt as if it was being strangled with a tight rope, and straight away the rope loosened. The police got us out of the carriage and escorted us down the tunnel and out of the station. It felt eerie. 

The emergency services were attending to the seriously injured, so the rest of us were left to our own devices. There were crowds everywhere and I remember thinking, "What the hell are you staring at?" I went across the road to McDonald’s, ran into the toilets and broke down.

I looked in the mirror and I was black from the smoke. I cleaned myself up and tried to call my mum, but the phone lines were down. There was no transport so I had to walk home to Haringey, in North London. 

I ran into my house, locked the door, closed the curtains and curled up on the sofa, waiting for my family to come and console me. I couldn’t turn on the news until the evening, and that’s when I found out it was a bomb.

It shook me, and knowing it was Muslim men shook me further. Being a Muslim, I know it clearly states in the Quran that if you take one innocent life, it’s as though you have taken the whole of humanity. What they did does not represent Islam.

I had to be signed off work, I couldn’t travel on the tube. I needed counselling, and a lot of family support got me through. When I went back to work six months later I was like a robot – my heart and mind were somewhere else. 

I had questions. Why would anyone do this? What could have been done to prevent it? What about the parents of the bombers? They gave birth to them, they wanted the best for them, they would not have wanted their children to take innocent lives. That’s when my life changed.

Making a difference

Not only did I decide to get married and have children – I now have two daughters, aged six and two – I turned my back on my career. I could have continued working my way up and earned lots of money, but I wasn’t happy. I wanted to make a difference. 

I started working with a charity called the JAN Trust, which helps marginalised, vulnerable women to lead more independent lives. I came on board to make a difference on the issue of extremism, working with mothers of young Muslims. 

Some of these women have never switched on a computer, so we teach them to go online and expose them to the issues of radicalisation. A lot of them don’t speak English and will often only be watching TV from their own country, so they can be unaware – during one session, we found that, around the time of the beheadings, only 4% of the women knew who ISIS were.

It’s so important to educate those who can make a difference. We give them the skills to challenge their children’s grievances in a positive way, so, let’s say they’re angry about the air strikes, how do they get their voices heard in a democratic way? 

We also work with schools. I’ve met students who sympathise with the 7/7 bombers. I told them my story, and put it into perspective – I could have been their sister, it was an indiscriminate attack against everyone, not just non-Muslims. We work with teachers too, as they have a duty to report radicalisation, and they’re feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with it.

Often what causes young people to be radicalised is challenging their grievances in the wrong way, but there are also the issues of alienation and high unemployment among young Muslims. The rise of Islamaphobia feeds into radicalisation too. They’re manipulated through chat rooms and social media.

Everything that’s happened since 7/7, such as the Paris attacks and the American shootings, is disheartening and worrying, but we’re making a difference on a grass-roots level. Changing one person’s mind can be enough to stop an act of terrorism.

The effects of what happened to me are still with me. I have to get on the tube for meetings, but I couldn’t do it day to day, and on the tenth anniversary, my husband told me I was screaming about the tube in my sleep. 

I think about it every day. But everything happened for a reason and that day turned my life around. It strengthened my faith because it felt like an attack on Islam, thanks to the knock-on effect of Islamaphobia.

I’ve had death threats, my property vandalised, been told, "I’m going to slit your Muslim throat". I’ve feared for my life and my family want me to take a step back, but then they’ve won. They’re trying to break me down but I’m never, ever going to let that happen.

● 700 people were injured and 56, including the four terrorists, died in the 7/7 bombings. Germaine Lindsay killed 26 of them on the train Sajda was travelling on in Kings Cross. It was the deadliest single act of terrorism in the UK since the Lockerbie bombing, and the deadliest bombing in London since World War Two.

● The JAN Trust is an award-winning women’s charity providing support and assistance to vulnerable, marginalised women across the UK. Their services range from raising awareness and preventing violence against women and girls through to developing skills for empowerment and integration.

● In a study, 92% of the Muslim mothers JAN worked with had no understanding of what radicalisation is, according to research conducted by the JAN Trust’s Web Guardians(c) programme.

● In the last three years there has been a 65% increase in the number of Muslim women reporting Islamophobic incidents. The day after the Paris attacks, the JAN Trust received 15 reports of Islamophobia within an hour from Muslim women. The youngest victim of Islamophobia supported by the JAN Trust has been a seven-year-old girl.

To support JAN Trust, visit jantrust.org

Published 17th January 2016

Real Housewives of ISIS – why the sketch creates a dangerous perception of Muslim women

The BBC has come under fire for one of its programmes, Revolting, airing a sketch called ‘Real Housewives of ISIS’. The programme, which depicts four women who have left the UK to join ISIS, was first published online on BBC3 on 5 January. In the show, the four women, in hijabs, interact and joke about the gifting of suicide vests by their husbands. The two-minute clip has been controversial, with many viewing it as satire while others view it as mocking the plight of women under ISIS.

The sketch portrays Muslim women as having manipulated views of Islam, in which violence, not peace, is the answer. And it creates further division as the women seem to be British citizens and used to live in Britain, implying that Muslim women must all have intolerant views and are not willing to integrate into society. The name of the sketch, ‘Real Housewives of ISIS’ further trivialises the issue, comparing life in Syria and Iraq to popular reality shows.  Some say that the sketch criticises the women who have voluntarily chosen to leave the UK and join ISIS. However, what is not recognised is the plight of women and those who are groomed online to join ISIS and that we must be sympathetic in understanding why these women have decided to join in the first place and try to understand what has been offered to them to convince them to join.

Furthermore, there is the overlooked aspect that many women have been forced against their will to join ISIS, many are emotionally and physically abused, and traded as sex slaves. One of the creators of the programme, Jolyon Rubinstein, stated that the target of the satire was ISIS and that it aims to make viewers aware of the servitude of Muslim women to ISIS: “The target is online grooming, it’s about people who are vulnerable to these kind of approaches.” However, it seems that the aim of the sketch has been lost as it just comes across as offensive to those who have lost family members as a consequence of the strength of online extremist communities.

The fact that the sketch is part of a BBC programme is even more shocking considering that the BBC is funded by the taxpayer and the government, and that it should, in theory, remain balanced. This sketch has created further division and bigotry within British society as some may find it difficult to differentiate between Islamic extremists and moderate Muslims.

At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project. The project helps mothers to prevent and prevent online radicalisation of their children. Many families have been destroyed by ISIS, the women and men who have joined are victims of a very sophisticated online network that uses lies.. JAN Trust is helping in the struggle against homegrown radicalisation, which is being set back with sketches such as these which further isolates and marginalises Muslim women within British society.

If you are interested in finding out more about Web Guardians© go to http://webguardians.org/.

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

Why Donald Trump's Muslim Ban is Terrifying

On Friday 27th January 2017, President Trump signed an executive order which bans the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from applying for a visa to enter the United States. The seven countries are: Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. The worldwide reaction to this unprecedented policy has been shock and disbelief. Online, the hashtag #MuslimBan has been trending on Twitter, with celebrities, politicians, and citizens voicing their views.

The policy will last for 90 days only until a more permanent solution is imposed. No refugees can enter the US for 120 days and, most shockingly, Syrian refugees are blocked indefinitely from entering the US. The order also prevents those of dual nationality, whose second nationality is from one of the banned countries, from entering the United States.

Following enactment of the policy, Sally Yates, now former Deputy and Acting Attorney General, was dismissed by Trump for standing up against the immigration ban, as she highlighted the fact that the proposals were in fact illegal under international law which states “Discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law.”

As a result, in airports across the US are in chaos with people who have landed and arrived from one of the affected countries detained for hours and airport staff unclear as to what they should actually do. On Saturday, 109 people across America were detained as they arrived in the US. This included a five-year old child arriving from Iran, and a woman from Iraq who had been granted a green card. Although the policy has been partly blocked by law, it will still go ahead. This will cause undue stress to families who are separated and to those hoping for refuge in the US. Due to mixed communication from the US government the order initially even stopped citizens of the United States who had a green card from entering the country and it is still unsure whether the policy applies to green card holders are now allowed to enter the US.

Tens of thousands of people are protesting at airports across the US and worldwide there has been widespread condemnation from prominent figures. Activist Malala Yousafzai has stated that she is “heartbroken” by the law and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has publicly criticised the policy, stating that the policy “flies in the face of the values of freedom and tolerance.”

London saw thousands of protesters voicing their concerns at a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street on Monday. Another protest in the UK is planned on the 18th of March, on UN Anti-Racism Day. If you would like to take part, visit this link. A petition that has already gathered over 1.5 million signatures calling for PM Theresa May to cancel President Trumps planned state visit has been circulated. Even former president Obama, in a move that is highly unusual for an ex-president to do, has spoken out against the measures.

When signing the order, Trump stated that “We don’t want them [radical Islamic terrorists] here.” And in a statement released later, he wrote “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting, this is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

However, this is stereotyping millions of people. We at JAN Trust condemn such a policy and hope that the will of the people can make President Trump change his mind. Our Prime Minister Teresa May must also make a stand against such a policy that fosters such hatred and islamophobia.

We need Britain to make a stronger stand to show that other nations will not accept turning away refugees and stigmatising Muslims. Many have been sharing statistics which show that an American is far more likely to be shot by another American than killed by Islamic terrorists. It is a racial and religious profiling that stereotypes all Muslims to be potentially dangerous.

This policy is divisive and terrifying. It will lead to more problems rather than less, and has already done so. There has already been a terrorist attack in Canada with the murder of 6 Musin a mosque. This is where the irony lies. More American citizens have died at the hands of other American citizens than from a foreign terrorist threat and a policy like will only create further divisions in the US along ethnic lines. The protest on the 18th of March will show that citizens are united against racism and islamophobia.

Why Trump’s Discrimination against Muslim American Women is Damaging for the World

In possibly the most shocking event of the twenty-first century, four-time bankrupted businessman and reality star Donald J. Trump has ridden to power on a wave of populism based on the exploitation of economic and social grievances of parts of the American public.

In only his first month, he has already managed to become the most divisive and controversial president in memory, with the lowest approval rating of any new President.

After a Populist campaigning focusing on the “threat” that foreigners pose to the United States, his victory on November 8th signalled an era of uncertainty for ethnic minorities, especially Muslims. Calls to Naseeha, a Muslim Youth helpline in Canada, soared after the election, with many concerned Muslim American citizens calling worried about the statements that Trump had made and what the future entailed for them.
 
Trump has made numerous highly worrying statements, such as that there should be a register for Muslims in America, a policy strongly reminiscent of that in in Nazi Germany which represented the first step in barring Jews from certain positions and eventually disenfranchising them completely.

Having stated prior to the election, that the US border should be temporarily closed to all Muslims until terrorism is at a more “manageable” level, one of his first policies was to ban nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries (notably none of the countries in which he has business interests), including US Green Card holders and refugees, from entering the US.

Reactions to his actions and statements have been less than favourable. His “Muslim Ban” was deemed illegal and overturned by the Supreme Court, a ban which he is currently fighting. The Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has said that “American Muslims are here to stay. We are not going anywhere, and will not be intimidated or marginalised.” In the UK, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has said that Trump must “Do everything in his power to unite people and bring divided communities back together”. And in an unprecedented move, the Speaker of the House of Commons stated that Trump would not be allowed to speak in parliament.

Many businesses have openly defied his plans, with Starbucks pledging to hire 10,000 refugees, many people boycotting his hotels and businesses, and even America as a tourist destination and many tech companies, who recruit largely outside of the US, voicing strong opposition and stating they will need to move if his plans are enacted.

At a grassroots level, protests and marches against Trump are on the increase. The women’s marches that took place across America and around the world the day after Trump’s inauguration have been transformed from a one-day event to an activist movement.  There is now a Twitter hashtag #WomensMarchWednesday where people from around the world are able to discuss activism and support each other. In the UK there are a series of protests planned in the lead up to his visit of the UK on the 20 March.

But regardless of whether Trump is able to put these plans into place, the danger he poses goes beyond this. The fact that the world’s most important leader now routinely makes racist, anti-Islamic statements is enough to create serious problems, not just in the United States, but globally.

Since Trump’s stance on refugees, opinion polls show that most Europeans - including 47% of Britons - want a ban on refugees from Muslim-majority counties. And this sentiment has even affected the views of our government, yesterday it was announced that the UK will no longer be taking unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.

Across Europe, the extreme right, which had been growing in recent years, is becoming emboldened by a world leader who effectively legitimises their views. Far-right attacks in the UK and much of continental Europe are on the rise, and the 30 of January saw the extreme culmination of what this racist rhetoric can lead to when Canadian citizen and avid Trump supporter, Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire in a Mosque in Quebec killing 6 and injuring 10 more.

While, of course, Trump’s rhetoric cannot be blamed for the actions of an individual, they do create a climate in which people who hold such ideas feel supported and feel that their actions are justified.

The “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” Trump wants cannot happen. As we are seeing, whatever he says affects the views of political leaders and citizens across the globe, an issue which is especially worrying with the current wave of right-wing sentiment sweeping Europe.

The US must not further create division across the world by creating the impression that all Muslims are terrorists or criminals. The US has always been an example of multicultural unity and it would be a shame for other countries to be influenced by the anti-immigration rhetoric in the US at the moment.

However bleak the situation seems, there is a case for optimism. In the wake of his election, millions of people marched for equality and solidarity with all women, rejecting Trump’s hatred and bigotry. Many marched against the election of Donald Trump because they believe that his administration puts into doubt the protection of women’s rights. Most admirably, women across the world for varied rights and in support of those they felt would be most affected by Trump’s presidency - there were around 600 rallies altogether worldwide. There were marches in Nairobi for reproductive rights. There were marches in India against sexual harassment. Many men also marched in solidarity. The image above, of a woman in a hijab decorated in the American flag, exemplifies the message of the protests – how being Muslim and American are not mutually exclusive but that Muslim women are a part of American society and as such should be fully accepted and welcomed.

JAN Trust hopes to allay Muslim women’s fear of xenophobia across the world by providing a safe space for them to integrate within British society. To find out more go to http://jantrust.org/.

 

Worthy Cause for Prime Minister


The Evening Standard wrote about JAN Trust and the dire funding crisis it faces. The article can be found here and below:

A worthy cause for a concerned Prime Minister by Rosamund Urwin

This week, David Cameron proclaimed a need to help Muslim women. He says they must all speak English. He wants to end forced marriage. He argues a lack of integration helps foster extremism. 

Well, there’s a charity in north London, JAN Trust, that should seem like a panacea then. It holds language classes. It helps those who’ve been compelled into marriage. It combats extremism by teaching mothers to identify signs of radicalisation, as well as computer skills so they understand what their children are up to online. It’s also set to close on March 31. 

Thanks in part to Government cuts, charities like JAN Trust face growing competition for the scraps philanthropic organisations can spare. But as Cameron was surely acknowledging, the cost of not helping these women is far higher. Rather than grandstanding, shouldn’t he make himself the saviour of JAN Trust?

Published 21st January 2016

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