13 April 2016
The European Parliament debated counterterrorism and Syed Kamall MEP, ECR group leader, argued that the answer is not only international cooperation, or military and intelligence cooperation that matter.
The European Parliament debated counterterrorism and Syed Kamall MEP, ECR group leader, argued that the answer is not only international cooperation, or military and intelligence cooperation that matter. He also stressed the need to tackle radicalisation at the local community level. Speaking in Strasbourg, he said:
“It´s rather sad that it´s often moments like this when we have the chamber come together, and we all come together to condemn the acts that we have seen over the last few months and in fact years in many of our countries. But after each attack we have questions.
A few days after the Brussels attacks a man in my constituency tweeted how he had confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon in South London and asked her to ‘explain Brussels’.
This tweet upset a lot of people.
Another twitter user replied:
“What has a Muslim woman in Croydon in South London, got to do with the horrific events in Belgium?”
But while the original tweet may have been offensive or clumsy, it also demonstrates that we are all looking for answers – whether we are of no faith, another faith or are Muslims.
We all want to ‘explain Brussels’. City we all know so well, whose citizens have buried family, colleagues and friends prematurely after these appalling acts.
Last month I opened the conference in the European Parliament organised by Iman Foundation on tackling extremism and terrorism.
What was interesting about this conference was that while there are maybe people in this chamber calling for more European agencies to solve all these problems none of the speakers or the experts present claimed that there was a single solution or a metaphorical silver bullet. Instead they spoke about the need to tackle terrorism at various levels.
At an international level, militarily, use of intelligence and diplomacy;
At a national level upholding the rule of law, defence of our values, and security of our citizens;
As well as at our local community level to tackle extremism at its roots.
We spoke about the drivers of terrorism:
Some searching for an identity or sense of belonging, others radicalised in prisons, some violent individuals looking for a new cause, others with grievances over perceived unfair foreign policy, yet more others vulnerable and fooled into believing there is a violent shortcut to paradise in a world of temptation.
But while we can debate this issue here today, are we really clear about what we as MEPs can do to tackle this issue:
Yes, we can vote for a new PNR system that takes into account concerns over data protection and civil liberties.
Yes, we can encourage our intelligence agencies to work together but this will only happen if they can trust each other to feel confident enough to share information, not if you force them.
But for those of us who represent constituencies where we know young people are being radicalised, allow me to suggest one more thing we can do.
At the IMAN conference last month, I invited The Unity of Faiths Football (TUFF) FC project from London to speak about how they harness the power of football to give a sense of team spirit and British values to youngsters from different religions.
At the project I met a young lady who told me how she almost went to Syria after being recruited by social media such as Snapchat.
The project’s founder, when he found out about this, made a few phone calls and gave her the choice of going through the gates of airport to Syria, or gates of a stadium of a Premier League team she supported.
When she arrived at the stadium she was so overcome that she knelt down to kiss the pitch and now through her experience encourages others not to be recruited into terrorism. Think of how much death and destruction that one act could have prevented?
And as the project´s founder said one of the best ways to counter-terrorism is to prevent people from becoming terrorists.
There must be similar projects in many of our cities that we can support and encourage. And if not, let me know since TUFFs is willing to come to your town or city to help set up a similar project.
So whilst we may not be able to ‘explain Brussels’, we may be able to help stop more attacks.
By encouraging cooperation across intelligence and security services
By giving security and law enforcement agencies whatever tools we can in a free and open society
And by supporting projects that stop young people becoming terrorists.
And by all of us saying that we will not treat all Muslims with suspicion.
We will not drive more people into the arms of extremists. We will not let the terrorists win.”
10 July 2020
10 July 2020