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It Wasn't Just Jihadi John That Radicalised Muslims. It's Our Fault Too.

Last week I appeared in some papers for comments I made about Tony Blair and Iraq at a fundraiser in Gainsborough. They claimed I was recorded secretly – even though a BBC film crew and documentary team were recording it too. And if the papers were regular readers of this column, they’d know my views on the Middle East and my take on Tony’s “crusade-like” view.

But I also pointed out my fear that ­Britain’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan has played a part in radicalising young Muslims here. There’s been much talk and publicity by our media and right-wing politicians keen to put the blame on Muslim clerics for inspiring young people to leave the UK to fight in Syria with Islamic State. And former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s accusations about “Trojan horse schools” radicalising young Muslims have not been proven, despite all the enquiries.

Now after three girls ­disappeared to Syria, we have three teenage boys being stopped and arrested in Turkey on suspicion of wanting to join ISIS. It’s believed more than 600 Britons have joined the fight in Syria, some to support ISIS, some to fight them. So isn’t it time we faced up to the fact we’ve played a huge part in making them want to leave Britain and take up arms in a foreign land thousands of miles away?

If I was a young Muslim watching the social injustice in Gaza where 2,000 people died in a matter of weeks from Israeli bombings, the ­displacement of millions of people in Syria and the US using drone missiles to target terrorist suspects but kill ­innocent families, I’m sure I could be radicalised too. And it’s been made worse by Israel’s PM Benjamin ­Netanyahu’s election pledge to prevent a state for Palestine


This kind of crusade started with the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of an elected Muslim government in Egypt, and continues with Syria. Any young Muslim would be affected by the indiscriminate killing, either by ISIS or Western military technology. And inevitably they will identify and seek to support what they perceive as their cause and their people.

Instead of persecuting and prosecuting the three teenagers arrested in Turkey, we must sit them down and ask why they felt so motivated to leave the safety of Britain to go to a dangerous conflict in the Middle East. Perhaps we might find that the radicalisation is more to do with their sense of justice and what they’ve seen on the television and in the papers every day for the past 10 years.ISIS also played its part in the grooming of young Muslims with their sickening propaganda on social media. But I fear it wasn’t just Jihadi John that radicalised them.

It was us too. So let’s talk to these young people and do everything we can to make amends.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 March 2015 18:51

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