Muslim leaders to launch anti-radicalisation scheme

Updated: 

British Muslim leaders are to create their own initiative aimed at steering young people away from terrorism, in competition with the Government's controversial Prevent programme.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which represents 500 charities, schools and mosques, is behind the new anti-radicalisation scheme.

"In reflecting the wishes of a cross-section of British Muslim society, our affiliates have directed the MCB to explore a grassroots-led response to the challenge of terrorism. Real challenges exists, as we see with Muslim families broken up as a number of children, mothers and fathers leave to travel to Syria," the MCB told The Guardian. 

Referrals to the Home Office's Prevent programme, which is run by police and security officials, reached 8,000 in the year to April 2016, and the creation of a scheme that is a direct challenge is likely to raise concern it could draw people away from the government initiative.

Mosques are likely to be the backbone of the new initiative, with individuals also able to be referred to the programme. And panels of community leaders, former police officers, and professionals from mental health and other agencies are set to support the scheme, the Guardian said.

Former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent Dal Babu said Prevent was a "toxic brand", adding: "It's not rocket science: go back to how we defeated the IRA. Just like when we were dealing with the IRA, we needed the confidence of Catholic communities."

The MCB said: "Having Muslims pass through subjective and discriminatory counter-extremism litmus tests as a condition of engagement only re-enforces the terrorist narrative.

"The Prevent strategy exacerbates this problem and it is quite clear that it does not currently have the support of many among Muslim communities across the UK, yet the threat of terrorism is real and severe."