UK Ministers recruit young Muslims as advisors to combat Islamic extremism - will use music and sports to "reduce tension"
August 29, 2008
Ministers recruit young Muslims as advisers in latest bid to combat Islamic extremismLast updated at 01:02am on 29.08.08 http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23546526-details/Ministers+recruit+young+Muslims+as+advisers+in+latest+bid+to+combat+Islamic+extremism/article.do
Panel: Young Muslims will act as advisers to Communities Secretary Hazel Blears
Twenty young Muslims are to become personal advisers to three Cabinet ministers in an attempt by the Government to tackle Islamic extremism.
Labour says the group, aged 16 to 25, will keep Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham and Schools Secretary Ed Balls in touch with the mood of Muslim youths.
Ministers hope that listening to and addressing concerns that affect Muslims could ease tensions in multi-cultural communities and cut the risk of them becoming radicalised by extremists.
The Young Muslim Advisory Group, to be launched in October, will also work with Arts Council England and Sport England.
The aim is see how cultural and sporting opportunities, such as the use of football tournaments or music gigs, can reduce tensions within different communities.
Miss Blears said: 'Ensuring young Muslims have access to constructive, democratic channels for dealing with concerns is crucial to our efforts to build communities that are resilient to extremist messages.
'We need to equip young Muslims to take the lead in challenging prejudice and preconceptions both within their own communities and in wider society.
'The Young Muslim Advisory group is about identifying the next generation of Muslim community leaders and providing a platform to speak out on issues that are important to them.'
Since June, more than 150 applications have been received and over the next few days the prospective advisers, who are all aged between 16 and 25, will take part in discussions and workshops to test their suitability.
The Young Muslim Advisory Group aims to give Cabinet ministers a first-hand understanding of the issues that affect young Muslims, including the risk of extremism, employment opportunities and education.
It will also try to get young Muslims' messages across in the media, promote role models and mentoring and 'build the capacity of young people, in terms of skills, knowledge and confidence, to counter the extremist ideology'.
One of the first tasks of the group will be to organise a national youth conference to discuss the challenges facing young British Muslims over the next few years.
The Government has been attempting to engage Britain's Muslim communities, especially in the wake of the July 7 terror bombings in London which murdered 52 innocent people.
Ministers recently announced £12.5million for Muslim communities to fund projects which aim to 'undermine extremist ideology'.
And last month the Government announced plans for state school pupils to be taught Islamic traditions and values in compulsory citizenship lessons.
Another measure will see Muslim children being taught citizenship lessons by imams in mosque schools in the hope they will be better equipped to resist violent extremist messages.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said the personal advisers would not be paid but would be allowed to claim expenses for any costs they might incur, such as travel or overnight accommodation.