Following the terror attacks in London and Manchester last year, we are all looking for answers. We want to know how these atrocities could happen; what could possibly drive a handful of terrorists to murder, maim and hurt so many innocent people.
The reality is that our intelligence services and the police are working tirelessly to prevent terror attacks. In fact, MI5 has announced that nine terrorist attacks have been prevented in the UK in 2017.
But it is the root cause of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism that many of us want to comprehend. The danger with trying to find these answers is that we are too quick to lay blame. Perhaps with influence from the press or social media, we rush to speak of religion as the perpetrator. That a faith many people don’t understand is the foundation of all terror.
The causes of extremism are, of course, much more complex than that. Becoming radicalised is not as simple as reading fundamentalist religious scripture. Grievances felt by people, whether right or wrong, are a major factor as well.
Blaming religious ideologies alone distracts from the many underlying causes of extremist views. Understanding why people become radicalised is not as simple as just blaming the Quran or fundamentalist ideologies. Young people who feel isolated and discriminated against, who lack opportunities, have a much higher chance of radicalisation.
Recently, I visited Lincolnshire to talk to the police and statutory services about the need for greater community engagement, in order to deal with local grievances. Local authorities are willing to listen, but engagement is also needed from communities themselves to protect vulnerable people.
The best way forward is for all to remain constructively engaged. As Muslims, it is only through working together, uniting our communities and developing stronger links that we can ensure an open dialogue and deeper understanding of each other.
Local authorities work to keep us safe, but they need our cooperation. Together, we can understand grievances and create a better framework to protect us all.
After all, tackling radicalisation is everyone’s responsibility.