Muflehun Executive Director Humera Khan participated in the ICSR Peace and Security Summit as a member of the working group on “Homegrown Radicalization in the West”. The event took place from June 30-July 1, 2010 in New York City. Proceedings from the groups deliberations are available from the ICSR summit website.
Some excerpts from the summary are given below:
Homegrown radicals generally lack a deep understanding of Islam – their theological knowledge is often superficial and thus easily distorted. In some countries, a large percentage of Islamists are converts. Surprisingly, they can often be said to convert not to Islam, but to jihadism; in other words, they became radicals as soon as they have converted without much of a transition period of moderate Islamic belief.
In this regard, law enforcement must be receptive to information that is passed from the community and must earn the trust of the community. Indeed, some members of the panel believe that it is better to understand the community and build relationships than to mechanistically apply lists of indicators. At the same time, indicators might prove to be of the greatest utility when used by the community itself to detect radical activity and intervene at an early stage in the process.
A successful “counter-radicalisation” policy has three primary parts: engagement, education, and information sharing. Law enforcement must engage the community directly and meaningfully and not use others to voice their views. Part of the solution is to ensure that the Muslim community is not on the defensive. The use of language is important (if for no other reason than that correct usage of terminology is regarded as important by the communities whose cooperation we need). The government also needs to stop seeing Muslims as only Muslims (i.e. a monodimensional identity in the form of a potential security threat) and begin recognising Muslims in terms of their myriad identities to find platforms for engagement. The government must also support vulnerable and at-risk individuals through the correct intervention at the correct moment.