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Militant Islam Monitor > Satire > UK gov to work with Islamists on mosque citizenship curriculum "Preventing Violent Extremism: Next Steps For Communities"

UK gov to work with Islamists on mosque citizenship curriculum "Preventing Violent Extremism: Next Steps For Communities"

July 18, 2008

MIM: According to the BBC Islamist Tariq Ramadan who was denied entry to the United States due to terrorism ties is among the 20 'academics and theologians' who are going to be on the board of this endeavor.




Blears - preventing violent extremism: next steps for communities

Published 18 July 2008

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears today announced a package of measures responding to calls from Muslim communities to support the promotion of citizenship and shared values and to stop Islamic theology being abused by those who seek to divide communities.

She said that a clear understanding of faith, open debate and discussion are key to building communities which are resilient to violent extremism.

The Government has always been clear that communities must be at the centre of the response to violent extremism. Over the last year we have been working with communities and local authorities in developing their capacity to confront violent extremism effectively, marginalise and undermine those actively peddling these views and support vulnerable young people.

Today's announcement builds on this significant progress. A new report Preventing Violent Extremism: Next Steps for Communities builds on the cross-government strategy published in June and outlines an ambitious new phase in our work with communities. This includes supporting increased take-up of citizenship teaching in mosque schools, strengthening theological understanding and a renewed focus on the importance of local council and community leadership. The report outlines plans to:

Establish a new independent board of academic and theological experts

Muslim stakeholders have consistently expressed concerns about Islamic beliefs being misused by those seeking to promote extremism or reinforce certain cultural practices. They are equally clear that violence has no place in Islam and that Islamic theology can play a vital part in countering such teachings.

The Government has responded by working with Muslim communities to facilitate the establishment of an independent theological board who will be able to advise on these issues and share their findings with the wider Muslim community. Cambridge University will be commissioned to establish a board of around 20 leading Muslim scholars and community representatives.

The board will examine issues relating to Islam in a modern context and how that fits with being a citizen in the UK. The membership of the board will reflect the diversity if Islam and Muslim communities in the UK. Seminars will be held over the coming months to discuss a broad range of issues including citizenship, identity and gender.

The content of these discussions, research findings and reports will be disseminated to a wider audience, helping to strengthen young people's understanding of their faith.

Citizenship teaching in mosque schools

A significant number of young Muslim people attend mosque schools regularly to receive traditional Qur'anic teaching. Building on pioneering work within Muslim communities, the Government has supported an independent educational organisation - the Schools Development and Support Agency - to work with scholars, educational experts and mosque school teachers to develop new citizenship materials and training packages for mosque schools.

These resources will be taught alongside or as part of traditional lessons with the focus on demonstrating to young British Muslims that their faith is compatible with shared values and with being a British citizen; undermining the violent extremists' argument that there is a fundamental conflict between the West and Islam, and being British and Muslim.

The new materials will be piloted in mosque schools in East London, West London, Leicester, Birmingham, Oldham/Rochdale, Bradford/Kirklees. Mosque teachers will be trained in using the new materials over the summer ready for use in October.

A new group of community leaders to advise on local responses to tackling extremism

Local Authorities have a central role in supporting communities and now see preventing extremism as a key part of their business. Many areas have fully grasped this agenda and are working closely with partners and their communities to develop innovative responses to the challenges it poses. For other authorities it remains a newer priority, we need to see more action from them and we will provide the support, training and guidance they require to do that.

We want to hear first hand what is happening on the PREVENT agenda in local areas, to be kept informed about the work underway, understand where we Government can provide more support and ensure that local authorities are clear about our priorities and expectations.

We will establish a Local Delivery Advisory Group comprising council leaders, chief executives, education advisers, community cohesion advisors and housing association representatives to ensure we continue to work closely on responding to the challenge.

Hazel Blears said:

"We have made significant progress working with communities to build an alliance against violent extremists.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills they need to stand up to violent extremists and help them understand how their faith is compatible with wider shared values.

"It is not for Government to dictate on matters of faith or religious teaching. But Muslim communities themselves have told us that stronger leadership is needed on what are often controversial issues.

"There are still some local authorities who know there is a problem in their local area but fight shy of it. This kind of challenge won't go away if we stick our head in the sand. It is important for civic representatives to take responsibility, starting with Chief Executive Officers and Leaders."

Today's report underlines the achievements that have been made but also outlines the further steps we must now take.

Over the last 15 months the Government have been taking forward a range of work to prevent violent extremism including:

  • The roll out of the £6m Preventing Extremism Pathfinder Fund which has supported over 200 grass-roots projects in over 70 priority areas. We are boosting that funding to enable local partnerships to step up this work and achieve greater impact - reaching £18m by 2010-11.
  • The development of a Faith Community Development qualification which will provide faith leaders with the skills and capabilities to lead their communities;
  • The roll-out of roadshows which enable leading scholars who emphasise that there is more that unites than divides us, taking on directly the extremists' narrative.
  • The establishment of the Young Muslims Advisory Group and the Muslim Womens Advisory Group, which will give these people a stronger voice and the capacity to shape the future of their communities.

Last summer we announced that £70m would be available for community-led work to tackle violent extremism. To support this work we have issued strengthened guidance to councils making clear they should only award funding to those groups who are actively taking a stand against violent extremism and promoting shared values such as tolerance and respect for the rule of law.

Since this announcement the total funding available has increased to over £80m is available over the next three years. The additional investment will be retained centrally and support programmes centred on:

Strengthening community leadership - particularly focusing on supporting those, including young people, who have links with some of the hardest to reach individuals. A key focus will be Empowering Muslim women and young people to play a more active leadership role and to encourage the emergence of new leaders from within communities including through a wide range of mentoring opportunities.

Supporting local responses - we will step up our work to support and build the capacity of local partnerships including local authorities, police, community groups ensuring that they are equipped to develop responses to specific challenges in their own areas.

Improve faith understanding and put long term measures in place to support faith leaders and institutions including the establishment of a theology board and support an Independent Review of the training of Muslim faith leaders.

This summer Hazel Blears will visit Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. The trip is intended to help deepen the Government's understanding of the strong links - particularly in faith issues - between those countries and their diaspora communities here in the UK.

The Communities Secretary will meet with Government Ministers in each country and discuss a wide range of issues including sharing experience of developing community led responses to tackling extremism alongside security responses. She will meet with those involved in religious training, community empowerment and cohesion issues, and women's and youth groups.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is jointly supporting the programme to develop citizenship teaching in mosque schools as well as wider work to promote the role of education in building more cohesive and resilient communities.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls said:

"Extremists of every persuasion tend to paint the world as black and white, accentuating division and difference, and exploiting fears based on ignorance or prejudice. Education can be a powerful tool in tackling this. Giving young people the opportunity to learn about different cultures and faiths, and - crucially - to gain an understanding of the values we share, will also help to build mutual respect and tolerance from an early age and create an environment where extremism cannot flourish."

Notes to editors

1. The document Preventing Violent Extremism: Next Steps for Communities can be viewed at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/preventingviolentextremismnext.

2. The Citizenship materials have been developed by Islam and Citizenship Education (ICE). Further details can be found at www.theiceproject.co.uk (external link).

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MIM: The homepage of the ICE project

O mankind! Indeed, we created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Truly, the best of you in the sight of God are the ones who are the most righteous. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things. (Qur'an 49:13)

O' believers, Be steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being pious, and remain conscious of God: truly, God is aware of all that you do. (Qur'an 5:8) http://www.theiceproject.co.uk/


The "Preventing Violent Extremism" initiative is also working with the UK Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as an Islamist group called the Radical Middle Way.

RMW is funded primarily by a grant from the UK Government‘s Global Opportunities Fund and DCLG. Additional support has come from a wide range of sponsors that in the past has included organisations like Islamic Relief."

The Radical Middle Way

"And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that you might bear witness to the truth before all humankind." Qur'an, Surah al-Baqarah, verse 143

The Radical Middle Way (RMW) is a revolutionary grassroots initiative aimed at articulating a relevant mainstream understanding of Islam that is dynamic, proactive and relevant to young British Muslims.

Through public lectures, seminars, workshops and cultural programs, we engage with real issues through legitimate orthodox scholarship. The RMW is about erasing the schism between public and private discourse over issues affecting Islam and Muslims in the modern world – we believe in open debate and meaningful discussion.

The Radical Middle Way is based on clear principles:

  • a rejection of all forms of terrorism;

  • a commitment to the revival of mercy, public service and a concern for social justice as emblematic Islamic duties;

  • a commitment to the emergence of a distinct British Muslim identity that encourages the active involvement of British Muslims in social, public and economic life of Britain; and

  • inspiring young people to become active agents for peace and positive change in their local communities

These themes are grounded in Islamic scholarship, tradition and civilisation. The project is committed to creating spaces where young Muslims can engage with these ideas in a meaningful, open and creative way.

Bringing the Best – Together

Since 2005, RMW has brought thousands of young people into contact with leading scholars of Islam from all over the world. Our visiting scholars and speakers are figures who command wide respect and authority, including Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Shaykh Ali Gomaa, Habib Ali al Jifri, Reis-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric, Ustadh Amr Khaled, Imam Suhaib Webb, Dr Tariq Ramadan, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Dr Jamal Badawi, Imam Ziaullah Khan, Murad Hoffman, Shaykh Hassan Le-Gai Eaton, Shaykha Halima Krausen, Yusuf Islam, Shaykh Walead Mossad, Mufti of Rwanda Saleh Habimana and Na'eem Jeenah. All are outstanding leaders and visionaries.

"Radical Middle Way events have given frontline workers like me the opportunity to engage with very senior Muslim scholars. Their advice has strengthened my understanding of the dilemmas we face as Muslims in the West. As a result, I am better able to serve the young men in my local community who are crying out for leadership and guidance." – Participant

"It's nice to hear people speak forcefully and unapologetically about the middle-way and really brings home the meaning of what that exactly is. Too often the mainstream majority is too quiet. It struck the heart beautifully." - Participant

Fiercely Independent

RMW is an inclusive intellectual and theological movement determined to present the message of the faith in a manner that lacks ambiguity, is exciting and bold: no topic is taboo, dissention is considered a virtue and scholarship is highly respected. We have a rigorously negotiated "terms of reference" with our funders that guarantees the independence of participating scholars and ensures that all of our activities are undertaken in the best interests of Muslim communities. Visiting scholars are given no prior script and are free to both choose and decide on the nature and content of their presentations. RMW has hosted lectures, seminars and debates which have addressed significant issues of the day including foreign policy, faith and citizenship and the role of religion in the modern world. RMW is funded primarily by a grant from the UK Government‘s Global Opportunities Fund and DCLG. Additional support has come from a wide range of sponsors that in the past has included organisations like Islamic Relief.

A Unique Partnership. Since its launch in 2005, RMW has worked with dozens of organisations and groups across the UK. Key partners and supporters have included the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), Young Muslims Organisation (YMO), Q-News and Mahabba Unlimited. Our doors are open and we are always expanding our network.

Alhambra Productions

Amal Press

Andalus Project

An-Nisa Society (Wembley)

British Muslim Forum

City Circle

Christian Muslim Forum

Federation of Student Islamic Societies

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Guidance Media

Home Office

Islamic Establishment

Islamic Relief

Islamic Good Direct

London Muslim Centre

Madni Mosque, Bradford

Mile End Community Project

Nawawi Foundation

Shukr Clothing

Southwark Council

Ummah Foods

Young Muslims UK

Zaytuna Institute


Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

is one Islam's leading thinkers today. He graduated from Cambridge University with a double-first in Arabic in 1983...

Shaykh Abdallah Adhami

began his studies of shari'ah at the age of eight, and heard his first scholarly narrative in 1975. He earned scholarly licenses from many...

Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah

is one Islam's greatest living jurist. An extremely well-known and well-respected scholar, he is considered a "scholars' scholar" since many of...

Imam Abdur Rahman Helbawy

is a member of the IIDR Board of Directors. Preliminary study of Islam and Islamic Sciences was with his father Dr Kamal el-Helbawy...

Shaykh Ali Gomaa

is the Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt - the second highest religious position in the country, after the position of Shaykh al-Azhar...

Habib 'Ali Zain Al Abideen Al Jifri

received a classical Islamic education from the illustrious scholars of Hadramauwt, embodying a methodology which crystallizes the middle way...

Ustadh Amr Khaled

is a relatively young Muslim Egyptian preacher and Islamic motivational speaker. He began preaching in mosques at a young age...

Catherine Heseltine

has been Muslim for 9 years, active in the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPAC UK) for the last 5, currently as National Campaigns Manager...

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

was born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Toronto, Canada. He entered the University of Toronto with a full scholarship and completed his...

Dr Fatima Zohra

has worked with various community groups, and was a trustee of the Muslim Women Helpline. She is keen to encourage practicing Muslim women...

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

founded Zaytuna Institute which has established an international reputation for presenting a classical picture of Islam in the West...

Shaykha Halima Krausen

was born in Aachen, Germany into a Catholic/Protestant family. She became Muslim in her early teens, eventually learning Arabic...

Shaykh Hasan Le Gai Eaton

The works of Shaykh Hasan le Gai Eaton have been decribed as sublime, poetic and masterful. His books have transformed lives...

Humera Khan

is a founder member of An-Nisa Society, an organisation managed by women working for the welfare of Muslim families...

Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa

was born and raised in Liverpool, England. He was blessed with the opportunity to study several classical disciplines...

Khola Hasan

is a writer and popular public speaker on Islam, with special emphasis on women's issues and human rights...

Al-Habib Kazim Ja‘far Muhammad al-Saqqaf

was born in Tarim, Hadramaut. He was taught the Qur'an and other Islamic disciplines by his eminent teachers at the famous school of...

Dr. Jamal Badawi

is a member of the Islamic Juridical Council of North America. He has served as a volunteer imam in Halifax, Canada since 1970...

Moez Masoud

is host of TV show, "Stairway to Paradise", airs worldwide on ART International and Iqraa. His recent appearances at the 2005 FOSIS conference ...

Dr. Murad Hoffman

was Germany's ambassador to Algeria and Morocco. He embraced Islam in 1980. His first book on Islam was Diary of a German Muslim...

Mufti Mustafa Ceric

is serving his second term as Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is considered as one of the most powerful scholarly voices...

Rami Nashashibi

is the Executive Director of IMAN (Inner City Muslim Action Network) in Chicago...

Imam Suhaib Webb

was born and raised in the State of Oklahoma, USA. During his teens he became a Hip Hop DJ and made many...

Professor Tariq Ramadan

holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. In Cairo...

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

is an American Muslim, born in 1948 to a Protestant family in Columbus, Nebraska. He is scholar-in-residence of the Nawawi Foundation...

Shaykh Walead Mohammed

was born in New York City in 1972 and grew up there and later in central New Jersey. Upon completion of high school he entered Rutgers...

Imam Ziaullah Khan

is the Director of the Centre For Islamic Development in Halifax, Canada, the Friday Prayer leader for the Muslim Student's Association...


MIM: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website description of the Radical Middle Way.

Muslim grassroots in the UK

Audience at a Radical Middle Way meeting

The Radical Middle Way (RMW) is a Muslim grassroots movement dedicated to making mainstream Islam relevant to young British Muslims.

Habib Ali Al-Jifri, speaking at a Radical Middle Way meeting in SalfordIts main aim is articulating an understanding of Islam that is dynamic, proactive and relevant.

Managed by young Muslims

Started in 2005, it is funded mainly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK's Department for Communities and Local Government. The project is managed by young British Muslims themselves, in partnership with various Islamic organisations.

The funding is vital to their efforts but RMW is keen to point out that "We have a rigorously negotiated 'terms of reference' with our funders that guarantees the independence of participating scholars".

Its message to supporters also points out that this independence ensures "that all of our activities are undertaken in the best interests of Muslim communities."

Bringing together Muslim scholars

Dr Umar, Radical Middle Way meeting in BirminghamIt operates in the UK and for the past three years RMW has been bringing together some of the leading authoritative and independent Muslim scholars from across the world to talk to young British Muslims.

One of the most important areas they discuss is what it means to be young, British and Muslim. It tries to combat ignorance by arguing for the ‘middle way' amongst the mainstream Muslim community.

RMW says that it is critical is to ensure that effective debate is lead by qualified scholars. It is also about challenging extremist views and providing alternatives, and changing the minds of young Muslims seduced by the rhetoric of extremism and radicalisation.

Not only do they get their messages out via their website but they have embraced the latest technology like MP3s, podcasts, videos, Youtube etc.

Distinguished scholar

One of their distinguished scholars, Shayk Abdallah Bin Bayyan has used the RMW website to answer difficult questions from young visitors ranging from education, sharia law, forgiveness and music and mainstream Muslim thought.

AAudience at a Radical Middle Way meetingRMW has held nearly 15 major tours so far, inviting scholars to address their young Muslim audiences – 60,000 in all and female as well as male.

The scholars come from all over the world, from the US to Egypt and the Yemen, from Canada to Bosnia and Germany.

This year they are running a series of monthly roadshows with leading scholars, thinkers and Muslim personalities who would engage in debates, seminars, discussions and face-to-face dialogue with our target audience.


They plan walkabouts, 'kebab shop' discussions and roundtables with voluntary sector organisations - youth and women's groups being a priority.

Since its launch in 2005, RMW has worked with dozens of organisations and groups across the UK. Their key partners and supporters include the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, the Young Muslims Organisation, Q-News, Britain's leading Muslim magazine and Mahabba Unlimited which organises cultural, intellectual, spiritual and social events and programmes.

See our preventing and resolving conflict pages for more about FCO policy. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/casestudies/young-muslims-uk

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