Today on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme Dr Muhammed Tahir Al Qadri, a Pakistani politician and Islamic scholar, called for British Muslims to be taught ‘peace’ in school to tackle radicalisation.
I wholeheartedly support the need for schools to play a role in the fight against terrorism.
Where I disagree with Dr Qadri is at whom the lessons in ‘peace’, ‘counter-terrorism’ and ‘radicalisation’ should be aimed. He says these subjects should be compulsory for all Muslim students, and only optional for all others. I feel it is imporant for all children, not just in Britain but the world over, to understand what terrorism is and be able to have a healthy debate about it.
The current terrorist threat is ISIS, but it is important to remember that terrorism has been around for centuries and in many different guises. History shows that terrorism can and usually does go away although it may take a long time. South Africa and Northern Ireland provide recent examples of how the cycle of terrorism can come to an end.
In order for schools to help with combatting extremism, teachers urgently need help to enable them to recognise, debate and disrupt extremist narratives within the context of the classroom. Radicalisation and Terrorism: A Teacher’s Handbooks for Addressing Extremism by Alison Jamieson and Jane Flint does just that. As Conor Gearty, London School of Economics, says in the preface: ‘There is nothing like this available today. No school addressing these issues should be without it.’