On young people & terror, rehabilitation: We don’t entirely know, we have some idea why some young people turn to terror. It doesn’t happen by accident. It has a foundation. My best opinion, from many years engaging with the Muslim community in this country is that we cannot exclude the fact that within some sections of the Muslim community there is a lot of anger about quite a lot of things. I’m not suggesting by that that the anger is directed towards advocating terrorism but a sense of injustice to the Muslim world, concern that the Muslim world doesn’t match the high moral framework they would like and in reality it is in many cases, a place in which many people are trying to leave and escape because it doesn’t have basic human rights and the societies are in a very difficult position, often being dominated by tyrants and a sense that historical forces may be to blame, some of those historical forces in some cases are a result of western intervention in the Muslim world in past decades. All those things may be legitimate factors in the debate but they don’t get us away from the reality that if people get angry and manifest long term anger I don’t think we should be entirely surprised that some elements in those communities start to resort to violence. I do happen to think that the foundation of the terrorism which is manifesting itself with young people going off to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups and perpetrating in many cases appalling acts is at least in part rooted in their disaffection and anger which they share with other people who don’t do it and so I do think that requires us all, and I should emphasise that it’s not about the Muslim community, but I do think we need to address this underlying issue of anger. Western society has a lot to offer, that’s why many Muslims have come to live here and particularly in this country. There needs to be a better articulation of the advantages of living in a pluralist society rather than at times a denunciation of what it has to offer. That’s one way in which we need to address it. I think that involves as much non-Muslims taking a lead in this because unless you have dialogue, you don’t get people moderating each other’s behaviour which is what flows from dialogue. If in fact there is little engagement and people are leading compartmentalised lives then that will act as a fuel to people becoming estranged and from estrangement can flow the violence. Now when it comes to rehabilitating people I always have the slight sense that it’s almost as if somebody’s got an illness and you’re saying well there must be a cure. If you pay some money you can cure people when they have got this disease. I’m not sure that’s entirely right, I accept that we do need to make effort with people who return from Syria. We can’t coerce them but if they wish and there are issues to be addressed we should be making provision and indeed the government’s prevent strategy is designed to try to do that but in a sense the solution lies in their dialogue. Of course people need to be rehabilitated and actually the legal system is quite sensitive about the motives that people may have had initially about going out to Syria but equally we need to make quite clear that going out to Syria and joining a terrorist group is almost clearly the commission of a very serious criminal offence, we can’t escape that. So I don’t think there are easy solutions to this but I think that just saying the government’s got to throw money at having people who can rehabilitate individuals coming back form Syria may slightly miss the point. the question is do people who come back from Syria wish to reintegrate into society; what is it that they want and how can others in society help them.
And do you think that the government’s current prevent strategy is working?
Government is doing it’s best in what I think is not an easy environment to find ways to prevent people from turning to radicalisation and if they have been radicalised to try to find programs which persuade them through engagement that in fact their radicalisation is an error and there is a good future for Muslims in the UK, as integrated members of British society yet at the same time able to maintain their own faith which I’m quite confident exists. Most other faiths groups in this country seem to have very little difficulty in combining the two. So of course we need to concentrate on that but I’m rather loathe to criticise; it’s far too early to say whether its succeeding or not, its clearly something we need to pay attention to, and I’m confident the government’s going to continue to do so.