This is an archive of the Inspire Women CIC website. The CIC no longer exists but the Inspire website as seen here, provides a historical account of the ground-breaking work delivered by Inspire from 2008 to 2018.  Sara was a co-founder of Inspire, and a co-director during that time.
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Sara was honoured to be asked by the organisers to speak to 600 people at this year’s Virgin Disruptors event in London.  She spoke about how the politics of fear is contributing to closed societies, the rise of extremism and the responsibility on all of us to defend the political middle ground whether as individuals, businesses, civil society and within our schools.

To read more about what Sara spoke about please read more here.

To watch Sara’s speech click here.

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Kalsoom is an organiser of the Bristol Big Sister's event taking place on Sunday 16th October 2016 at The Park Community Centre.

Kalsoom Bashir is the community co-chair of Building the Bridge, a partnership approach to increasing community cohesion and resilience, and reducing the risk of radicalisation; an organiser of the Big Sister’s conference in Bristol and a director of Inspire, a non-governmental advocacy organisation working to counter extremism and gender inequality.

Here are Kalsoom’s top-five Bristol favourites:

The Downs

“I live close to the Downs and being able to head out for a walk towards the Sea Walls and marvelling at the view every time I see it makes me feel like the luckiest person ever. I love seeing the joggers, children playing and learning to ride their bikes, dog walkers and kite flyers. It’s fantastic. The trees look amazing in the autumn.”

The parks

Clifton slider – worn smooth by generations of Bristol bottoms

“Having had four children, the parks were a lifesaver no matter what the weather. St Andrew’s Park with the paddling pool, Redland Green with the sandpit, Eastville Park and the ducks, Cotham Park’s play area, the sliding rocks in Clifton, Leigh Woods, Ashton Court and of course Bristol Zoo.”

The harbourside

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“On a nice day – and even on not such a nice day – there is nothing like walking down to the harbourside enjoying the view and marvelling at the ss Great Britain. The Watershed is a great place to sit and meet friends and I will always have lunch at Falafel King.”

St Mark’s Road 

“Food is important and this is the best place to go when I need to stock up on herbs, spices and ingredients for home cooking. As well as Pakistani food, I love Turkish, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine so this is the place to shop, and I am always guaranteed a warm welcome in Sweet Mart.”

Redland Library 

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“I love reading and am not able to walk past my local library without just a quick browse to see if anything on the shelves catches my eye. I love the fact that it’s well used by people of all ages and is always full. Long may it remain so.”

 

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First published October 2016 on the London School of Economics (LSE) website

Despite the government engaging with hundreds of mosques, community organisations and faith organisations in the last year, many Muslim organisations do not want to publicise the fact that they support Prevent. Sara Khan argues that this is because of a loud anti-Prevent lobby that is dominating the discourse on Prevent and vilifying those Muslim organisations that do engage with it. Khan argues that a far more complex and nuanced picture exists amongst British Muslims than is commonly presented. 

I have lost count the number of articles, academic blogs and assumptions that are made about Prevent, in particular that the “Muslim community” opposes it.  Not only is the use of the term “Muslim community” problematic – ignoring the rich diversity in thought, belief and practice of Britain’s three million Muslims – but it is also simply not true that all Muslims do oppose Prevent.

The at time lazy and uninformed debate around Prevent is in part a result of our post-truth society, where, as Kathryn Viner, editor of the Guardian once wrote we should be concerned about how technology and social media now has the ability to disrupt the truth.  Does the truth matter anymore, she argues, where “outlandish claims are published on the basis of flimsy evidence,” and when “a fact begins to resemble whatever you feel is true it becomes very difficult for anyone to tell the difference between facts that are true and “facts” that are not.”

There is no greater example of this than the EU referendum campaign which was repeatedly marked by lies and misinformation.  But I have seen how, through a combination of technology, ideologically driven activists, fervent anti-establishment sentiment and a lack of balanced media reporting, Prevent – and indeed many Muslim groups who support Prevent – have become victims of our post-truth society.

Last month Tariq Ramadan wrote in the Guardian that the government’s counter-terrorism strategyPrevent is flawed because it is based on “a process through which individuals pursue a continuing trajectory, leading from a “moderate” understanding and practice of religion, to an increasingly violent or extremist involvement.”  Ramadan is referring to the oft-repeated claim that Prevent is based on the so-called “conveyor belt” theory of radicalisation.  In an article for the Independent last year, Rabah Kherbane wrote “our government’s current anti-radicalisation strategy is based entirely on the premise of a so-called “conveyor belt theory”. The Home Office vouches for this theory, and it forms the basis of the government’s flagship counter-terrorism policy Prevent.”

Yet despite these claims not being based on fact or truth they have been repeatedly stated.  Nowhere in the Prevent strategy is there support for the conveyor belt theory let alone that the Home Office “vouches” for it.  Instead the government has made it clear in official documents that there is “no single way of identifying who is likely to be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.”  Factors, the guidance goes on to say, are wide and varied and can include bullying, family tensions, personal or political grievances among others.  The Security Minister, Ben Wallace MP, in response to Ramadan’s claim argued that “the Prevent strategy has never conflated religious practice with radicalisation.”

But the damage by such articles are already done; the myth, one of many, is spread widely on social media and becomes cemented in the mind of many as fact. The Independent comment piece noted above for example was shared four thousand times. Technology is used to spread myths, in an unprecedented way to an unsuspecting audience, who then end up conflating this untruth as fact.

In my book The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identity from Extremism, I highlight such concerns. While there are legitimate concerns about the delivery and effectiveness of Prevent, I evidence how British Islamist organisations have led on delivering a highly effective campaign in deliberately misinforming not only British Muslims but wider society about what Prevent is and is not.  These Islamists have not only partnered with teaching unions, students, lawyers, teachers and academics in an attempt to end Prevent, they have sought to malign the many Muslim organisations who do support it creating a “toxic” climate where many Muslims do not want to openly admit their support for Prevent.  As a result the loud anti-Prevent lobby end up dominating the discourse – and narrative about Prevent.

There are valid reasons why many Muslim organisations do not want to shout from the rooftops their support for Prevent, despite the fact that the government has engaged with 372 mosques, 385 community organisations and 156 faith organisations in the last year. Many of these Muslim groups, doing important counter-narrative and CVE work, are vilified because of the opposition by Islamist groups to this area of work. They are labelled as “native informants” and “sell outs.”  These counter-radicalisation groups, including my own, have been declared “apostates” “government spies” and “traitors” by Islamists precisely because of our anti-extremism work.  Yet in an era of ISIS radicalisation, it is precisely this counter-narrative work and partnership which is so urgent.  The Home Office reports that 130 community based projects were delivered in 2015 reaching over 25,000 people.  Online counter-narrative products to counter ISIS propaganda produced in partnership with Muslim groups and the government generated over 15 million views online in 2015. This is vital work.

Alongside this, the debate around Prevent has exposed the continuing alliance between Islamists and some on the British Left.  Together both continue to propagate myths around Prevent and equally pour scorn on counter-radicalisation Muslim groups who increasingly find themselves in a beleaguered space.  What does it tell us about the state of debate today when non-Muslim socialists openly write that organisations like mine – a non-governmental organisation founded by Muslim women – are “state sponsored Islamophobes”* because one of our projects, Making A Stand was supported and funded by the Home Office?

Our campaign visited hundreds of Muslim women in 9 cities across the UK which taught mothers theological counter-narratives to extremist ideology and how they can safeguard their children against radicalisation. Our campaign was well received by British Muslim women – whether Shia, Ahmadi or Sunni.  We delivered this campaign because of the high demand; these same women did not feel that “representative” Muslim organisations or mosques were providing them with such support.  At the same time we knew that without the government’s support through Prevent we would not have been able to deliver this campaign.

But such work has come at a price.  The vitriol, abuse and threats we – and other counter-radicalisation Muslim groups – have received from Islamists has sadly been a blind eye for many in the world of academia – and indeed the media – who instead focus their efforts on those who shout the loudest about their opposition to Prevent rather than acknowledging the far more complex and nuanced picture that really exists amongst British Muslims.  It also ignores the battle of ideas that is currently taking place amongst Britain’s Muslims.

Prevent is by no means perfect and the government’s weakness in communicating what Prevent is and is not and in reassuring the public has undoubtedly been part of the problem.  Much can be said of the government’s unhelpful focus and over inflation of its security policy when engaging with British Muslims.  The announcement of a counter-extremism bill, separate to Prevent, and the government’s attempt to legally define what an extremist is, is a policy I have repeatedly spoken out against and one that I oppose.  Such policies will not only undermine our human rights and freedom of speech, which must be protected especially at such heightened times, but I believe will also undermine our struggle against extremism which seeks to polarise our communities.

Through my work I have seen first-hand how Prevent is playing out on the ground. We need a far more balanced and accurate discussion about Prevent for the sake of truth, intellectual rigour and academic debate.

Sara Khan is author of “The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identity from Extremism” co-authored with Tony McMahon.  Sara is also co-director and co-founder of Inspire, a counter-extremism and women’s rights organisation.  www.sarakhan.co.uk

*The article mentioned appeared in the Socialist Worker paper and has since been removed, following legal action

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The Battle for British Islam examines the struggle against Islamist extremism within Britain today.  As reviewed by The Sunday Times “this is an important book full of compelling, disturbing and inspirational material, required reading to understand what is happening in our midst and what we can do about it.”
You can purchase the book from Amazon

 

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BBC News Channel

Sara Khan by Joe McGorty

Sarah Montague speaks to Sara Khan, director and co-founder of Inspire. Kadiza Sultana was 16 when she ran away from her home in London to join the so-called Islamic State group in Syria. Her family have heard reports that she is dead, killed in a Russian airstrike. It’s hard enough to understand why young men join IS, it’s harder still to see what attracts women. Sara Khan is at the forefront of efforts in the UK to prevent young women being radicalised. What does she say to them? And is it making any difference?

To watch the video, click here

First aired Wednesday 31st of August 2016

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BBC Radio 5live, Thursday 25th August 2016

On Thursday 25th August,  Kalsoom Bashir- Inspire Co-Director was invited on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report in counter narratives to extremism, focusing specifically on the Prevent duty.

Listen in to hear Kalsoom on the importance of safeguarding young people, as well as address the hysteria, myths and deliberate misconceptions surrounding the measures, including the oft-cited  “terrorist tots” and “terrorist/terraced house” cases.

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by Sara Khan, first published in "The Telegraph" on Wednesday 24th August 2016

Police patrolling the promenade des anglais beach in Nice fine a woman for wearing a burkini CREDIT: VANTAGENEWS.COM

Who would have thought a woman, lying on a beach and minding her own business, could present such a threat to the French state?

Bu today, pictures have emerged of four armed police officers – armed with pepper spray; batons in hand – confronting a woman doing just that and ordering her to remove some of her clothing. Namely, her burkini.

Violating both her dignity, and freedom in deciding what adorns on her body, the woman is seen dutifully and humiliatingly removing the blue tunic in front of countless other sunbathers – some of whom reportedly shouted ‘go home’ and applauded, as her daughter wept – in the name of “women’s rights” and “protection of the public.” The ban on the garment was announced by the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, earlier this month in the wake of the Nice lorry attack, which killed 85 people on July 14. A number of women have already been fined and arrested for breaching it.

As France finds itself in the grip of emergency law brought about by the numerous Islamist-inspired terror attacks that have plagued the country in recent times, you would think the authorities would have more pressing concerns on their mind than the burkini, which as many have pointed out is really not dissimilar to a wetsuit.

France’s intelligence and police agencies have found themselves severely criticised having missed vital clues that could have thwarted terrorist acts. From the Charlie Hebdo incident to the Paris attacks in November 2015, the authorities knew some of the attackers – but had failed to intervene effectively.

The threat to France and its population by extremists requires a sophisticated, multi-pronged counter-terrorism approach, which must include building trust and co-operation with the country’s Muslim communities – especially if they are to deal with homegrown jihadists.

Yet it appears France believes the way to “protect the population” as Nice’s local Mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni argued is by banning a swimsuit. Going further, highlighting the join-the-disjointed-dots approach France has in countering terror, a Nice tribunal ruled on Monday that the ban was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder.

Rather than making war against the jihadists as France keeps telling us, they appear to have made war against Muslim women’s bodies and agency. This, after all, is a country that already has a ban on women wearing full-face veils in public. And, ironically, just like the jihadists who seek to control, deny and prevent women from making their own choices, France too has now made women’s bodies a key battleground instead of standing up for the values of ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite’ it claims to hold.

France has fallen right into the Islamists’ trap: abandon your values that we despise.

Sadly the French authorities fail to see this; and how these pictures will be used as propaganda by terrorists. Banning the burkini doesn’t really achieve much apart from protecting a few illiberal people’s sensibilities; what it does do however is undermine France’s counter-terror efforts at a time when it matters most.

I would be very interested to know the statistics of how many burkini-clad women the French police have arrested for plotting a terror attack while lying on a beach, gazing at the clouds as their children splash about in the sea.  I doubt such information will be forthcoming.

But we know this is not about the burkini. It’s not even about women’s rights. It’s about the religious identity of those women who wear them. It’s about the very presence of Muslim women and Islam in France, and the unease some have towards that religion.

France, while a secular country, appears to struggle with Article Nine of the European Convention on Human Rights: the freedom to hold and manifest religious belief. The manifestation of religious belief can be curtailed under strict conditions – where the freedoms of others could be compromised or in the interests of public order.

Promoting hatred, violence and discrimination in the name of religion, as many Islamist preachers do, would be legitimate grounds for curbing the so-called religious rights of such individuals. Banning a swimsuit, is not a reasonable or proportionate response.

I hope France’s feminists stand on the side of these Muslim women, and not with the authorities or Islamists – both ironically two sides of the same coin in seeking to enforce their clothing choices on women. And I hope French government officials recognise how they are undermining not only their own values but also their counter-terror efforts at this critical time.

Sara Khan is the author of The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identity from Extremism (now available with Saqi Books), co-authored with Tony McMahon. She is also the co-director and founder of Inspire, a counter-extremism and women’s rights organisation.

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Inspire statement on the HASC's report "Radicalisation: the counter-narrative and identifying the tipping point" released on Thursday 25th of August 2016.

Inspire welcome the HASC’s report “Radicalisation: the counter-narrative and identifying  the tipping point” released on Thursday 25th of August 2016.

The report rightly highlights that there is no single path to radicalisation and that therefore government response needs be sophisticated and multi faceted in it’s approach, both in identifying the factors and tackling them.

Some excellent recommendations are made, in particular about the role of technology and social media companies. The internet is a key tool for radicalisers and more needs to be done to win the cyber war with terrorists and extremists organisation. This also includes a more “high-tech, state-of-the-art, round-the-clock” Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU).

Effective counter narratives need to be community led and the government has worked effectively in partnership with civil society groups to make these messages impactful and strong. We agree that Muslim organisations that claim to have wide-scale influence and engagement with communities need to see it as ‘one of their primary duties’ to tackle extremism, and ‘do so much more to expose, remove and isolate those who preach or advocate race hate and intolerance’, which to date has not been the case.

The suggested rebranding of Prevent alone will not fully address those that have made it their cause to undermine its work by spreading lies and myths. We are disappointed that some within the anti-Prevent lobby are deliberately peddling untruths within Muslim communities and wider society, while offering no effective alternative to safeguard those most vulnerable to radicalisation.

Prevent is a strategy to support British citizens from being drawn into terrorism and an essential as well as valuable safeguarding measure to protect our communities and loved ones. Whilst it is not perfect, there have been no other strategies put forward to deal with the very real threat of radicalisation. We acknowledge there needs to be improvements in delivery and training and Inspire would welcome these.

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Image Source: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2015/april/muslim-women-and-employment.html

The Women and Equalities Committee’s report entitled “Employment opportunities for Muslims in the UK”, released on Thursday 11th August 2016, makes a great number of recommendations to the Government on improving the accessibility to employment for British Muslims. According to the report, unemployment rates for Muslims are more than twice of that of the general population at 12.8%. A further breakdown shows 41% of Muslims are economically inactive, 65% of which are women.

Addressing and removing barriers to employment for Muslims, and Muslim women should be an absolute priority for the Government. The recommendations made in the report about the need for better, comprehensive data, will go a long way in helping us understand better where the issues are within our systems and institutions. Once we have these, other suggestions, such as “equipping Job Centre staff with the tools and training to improve their understanding of employment issues”, and asking universities to publish “strategies to improve the under-representation of Muslim students” can be enacted effectively, based on evidence. The move towards “name blind recruitment” is also a welcome step towards ensuring equality and reducing discrimination at application stage.

Whilst addressing unemployment in Muslim communities must be a priority for Government, it must be a priority for Muslim communities too. And this is where I fear, we fall down. No matter how excellent the recommendations and proposals set out by the report are or how effectively they are implemented, they will only lead to minimal improvement for the biggest proportion of Muslims that are economically inactive: Muslim women. The report does well to highlight the additional barriers faced by Muslim women, borne out of cultural, parental and religious expectations and limitations, especially regarding matters such as going to university, childcare and traditional family roles.

For example, following on from the point made about the under representation of Muslims at Russell Group universities, the report rightly points out that for Muslim girls, parents will push for the nearest university rather than the best one- due to expectations that girls must stay at home, driven by religious beliefs or cultural norms that discourage Muslim girls and women from living alone or exercising their agency.  Another example is the statistic that 44% of economically inactive Muslim women are inactive because they are looking after the home, compared to the 16% of the national average. The report notes that there may be lack of awareness of free childcare available to individuals, however there is also still the reality of the stigma about “leaving your kids and going to work” when it is oft-repeated that a woman’s primary (and often her sole role) is motherhood.

Initiatives cited by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) such as their work with Reed employment agency to “access Muslim women” are welcome, as are requests by the group to the Government to “provide Muslim women with more focussed support”. However, what we also need to see is groups like the MCB engaging with their own hundreds of affiliates, mosques and Islamic community organisations to start changing attitudes towards women and pursue a more active gender egalitarian approach.  The Committee’s report states “mosques can also play an important role in promoting opportunities for women”- but who will make them? Apart from a few exceptions, to date, they have shown little appetite for such positive action.   The vast majority of mosques, affiliates of the MCB, are still hostile places for women, failing to offer adequate provisions and facilities for women, still running male only boards, making women sit in separate rooms and talking to them through doorways and publishing guidance that women must not travel alone more than 48 miles, wear trousers or have Facebook accounts.

Instead, efforts from some Muslim organisations and our so called community leaders are concentrated on much less significant matters. There is a recommendation for the Government to publish their timetable to introduce Shariah compliant student finance- groups, something the MCB lobbied hard to bring about. However, the lack of “halal” students finance is only a barrier for the tiniest of Muslim minorities. HSBC, who with much fanfare announced so called “halal mortgages” in 2008 after being led to believe there was an overwhelming demand discontinued the product in the UK in 2012 due to the lack of uptake. This should highlight how small an issue this is.  If only a similar amount of energy and efforts went in to our communities when it came to changing attitudes and working towards gender equality and economic freedom for Muslim women.  Instead, Muslim organisations such as Inspire and others that endeavour to undertake this work are attacked, rubbished and subjugated to misogynist abuse, highlighting how difficult the struggle for gender equality within Muslim communities is.

It is not only the intra-community gender discrimination that disadvantage Muslim women. The report correctly draws attention to the increase in anti-Muslim prejudice in our society and the disproportionate way it impacts women who are “visibly Muslim”.  There has been quite substantial evidence indicating that Muslim women are being discriminated against in the workplace, in job applications and during interviews; in fact in every stage of the recruitment process.  Muslim women experience what is often referred to as the triple penalty: discrimination on the basis of their gender, ethnicity and religion.  This is a clear violation of the equality act 2010 and the report is right to address this.

Yet whilst we ask the Government to ensure that employers are sensitive to the needs of Muslim employees, colleagues and team members with appropriate diversity and equality policies to ensure no one is excluded, it is also important for some Muslims to develop what the report calls ‘soft skills.’ Socialising at work is cited as a barrier, alongside the lack of these soft skills, which are developed through engaging and socialising with wide and varied circles. While employers can do more to ensure all staff socially feel part of the workforce, offering diverse out of office venues for example, it is also important to recognise the limitations and even harm of those who hold puritanical interpretations of Islam which often actively discourage socialising or striking up friendships with non-Muslims. I have seen how this can become an inhibiting factor when searching for work or considering an employment opportunity.

In conclusion, yes the Government needs to separate their attempts to tackle inequalities within Muslim communities from their counter-extremism policy, provide more support through their systems and job centres. Yes, employers need to look at how they can be more inclusive and ensure universities are more accessible. And yes, we need to deal with the barriers brought about by anti-Muslim prejudice and preconceptions.  But there is also a huge amount of work that needs to be done from within, that can only be done by Muslim communities.  These include challenging patriarchal attitudes and beliefs put upon women either culturally or religiously, which limit their potential in life and have a negative impact on our society and our very own communities who, as we have seen, continue to remain economically the most disadvantaged in the UK.  We need to and can do better.

Yasmin Weaver

Inspire Project Manager

 

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Extremists of all factions detest our society, where different views and faiths can co-exist peacefully

United: at his official signing-in at Southwark Cathedral, Mayor Sadiq Khan brought faiths and races together Reuters

First published in the Evening Standard on Monday 1st August 2016

“We have imported a monster, and this monster is called Islam,” Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch far-Right Freedom Party, said this week. His anti-immigrant party currently has a strong lead in the opinion polls. 

Following the slaughter of European citizens in recent weeks by Muslims who have pledged allegiance to IS or who have taken inspiration from jihadist propaganda, there exists almost a sense of inevitability in the rise of far-Right populist parties exploiting the prevailing sense of fear and insecurity. Far-Right sentiment can also lead to its own deadly end, as we have seen:  18-year-old Ali David Sonboly, who lured teenagers into a McDonald’s in Munich and then gunned them down, was a far-Right extremist who believed it was a “special honour” to share a birthday with Adolf Hitler.

Extremists of both the Islamist and far-Right variety have more in common than divides them. They both yearn for a final “clash of civilisations”. They hate our democracy and liberal values. They detest a society where different views and faiths can co-exist peacefully.

IS’s call on Muslims to commit acts of terror have an underlying motive to polarise and divide our societies and wipe out what IS calls the “grey zone” of co-existence. Establishing its so-called caliphate, IS seeks to divide the world into two. The “land of Islam”  includes those Muslims who have pledged allegiance to IS’s caliphate; this is ranged against the “land of disbelief”, made up of non-Muslims and those Muslims who reject the Islamist worldview and as a result are declared apostates.

There is no doubt that these acts of terror have changed the political discourse in Europe and the United States. Far-Right narratives are seeping into the mainstream and hate crime across Europe is on the rise. Yet when Wilders calls for a ban on Muslim immigration that would “de-Islamise Europe”, rhetoric that would have been unthinkable in the decades after the Nazi Holocaust, he and others on the far-Right spectrum help form the binary world IS seeks to create. Donald Trump’s xenophobic language about Muslims, which no respectable politician would have used up till now, is another prime example. The common inference by such divisive language is that every individual who adheres to Islam is a terrorist in the making.

If we are going to prevent a dangerous drift into the politics of hate dominating across the West, then Western societies have to re-think the national discourse about their Muslim citizens, who can be the most powerful ally in defeating the threat from global Islamism. The greatest threat to IS are Western Muslims who reject its call for jihad and strive to build peace, security and co-existence in their respective countries.

As IS targets Jews, Christians and others, it can be easy to forget how IS hates Muslims who don’t subscribe to their worldview. IS killed hundreds of Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan this year. It has slaughtered anti-Islamist Muslim clerics. Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the truck-driving killer in Nice, was no doubt indifferent when he claimed his first victim, 62-year-old Fatima Charrihi, who was walking with her family on the promenade. Hers is one of many such stories —Muslims being the main victims globally of Islamist-inspired terror.

We have a vested interest in ensuring that our society does not become more polarised. The political class must work alongside those British Muslims who are actively countering the Islamist worldview and who are striving for a future based on compassionate co-existence to ensure this appalling and deliberate strategy is not realised. This means rejecting outright the arguments of populist rhetoric from Wilders, Marine Le Pen and Trump, and also taking on the insidious ideology of Islamists, both violent and non-violent, without the fear of political correctness or worrying about causing “offence”.

We must also reach out to young people and confidently counter the arguments and worldview that have prepared the ground for terrorist radicalisers to operate. This is of paramount importance; there are third-generation European and British Muslims — some as young as 13 — who desire to live in IS territory and who believe the measure of a good Muslim is one’s hatred for the West. British Muslim youth must be shown in clear terms that it is not the West that is the enemy; it is Islamist extremism which forces them to reject their multiple identities, their future careers, their own families and universal human rights.

Politicians and wider society must recognise these nuances as opposed to the distorted image offered by Islamist propagandists. That particularly applies to the Left, where some have got into bed with Islamist-sympathising groups that have no interest in Western Muslim integration. These groups push a constant victimhood narrative where Britain is portrayed as an inherently “Islamophobic” society that seeks to destroy Islam and deny Muslims the freedom to practise their faith. This conspiratorial view is being pushed aggressively, and it is vital that public institutions work with Muslim groups trying to counter this toxic narrative. Whether in communities, in universities or on social media, it is vital we counter the arguments of Islamists, otherwise an uncontested space is left open and their message will be taken as truth not just by Muslims but well-intentioned young activists who oppose racism and prejudice.

Countering the appeal of Islamist extremism is not an impossible task. There are Muslim civil society groups doing vital work in cities and towns across the UK challenging Islamist extremism and preventing radicalisation. These Muslim voices present a thorn to IS but equally an uncomfortable truth to those such as Wilders and Trump. And in the fight against Islamist-inspired terrorism those British Muslims who are countering Islamism and championing human rights are our natural allies. At this juncture when global Islamist extremism seeks to destabilise societies, we should strive harder to become even more united in our shared values to defeat the extremists who want to divide us.

Sara Khan is co-director of Inspire and author of The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identity from Extremism, co-authored with Tony McMahon. It will be published by Saqi Books on September 5.

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