NCLF Newsletter Editor Picks 12 Leading Stories From 2013
Christians consider ways to stem the flight of black British youths to Islam and radicalisation
Christians and Muslims met in London on Wednesday 17 July 2013 and considered why a significant number of young black Britons are abandoning Christianity in favour of Islam; why some converts are being radicalised; and what Christian churches can do in response.
Speaker Richard Reddie, author of ‘Black Muslims in Britain’ (Lion 2009) explained that the journey from Christianity to Islam amongst British blacks date back to the 1960s, and continues to be an expression of black people’s search for identity and certitude, which converts say they do not find in Eurocentric Christianity; including black churches.
Rev Ade Omooba, Co-Chair of NCLF- A Black Christian Voice, together with colleague Fred Williams, said that the recent killing in Woolwich of Drummer Lee Rigby, is symptomatic of common occurrences in other parts of the world, like their own experience in Nigeria. Omooba and Williams told the meeting that these atrocities are a consequence of people being radicalised and losing respect for life. The place to start, Omooba said, was seeing ‘God in everyone’.
The seminar heard that a key recruiting ground for radicalisation is prisons where black men are over represented. Dr R David Muir, Co-Chair of NCLF – A Black Christian Voice, described what he called ‘the mass incarceration’ of black people in the UK, similar to the US, as the ‘New Jim Crow’. Muir described the incarceration as a ‘blasphemy against the image of God in black people’. Quoting ECHR ‘How Fair is Britain’ (2010), Muir said that, on average, five times more black people than white people are in prison. From his own research, in one prison 50% of the black prisoners were from church backgrounds, with 12% from families of Christian pastors. Muir asked the church – and black churches in particular – ‘what has been going wrong?’Richard Reddie speaker at Seminar on Christian response to radicalisation.
Jennifer Crook, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor for the Methodist Church, encouraged zero tolerance of the ‘blasphemy’ of racism in British society which alienates black British young people and renders them vulnerable to alienation and therefore radicalisation. Crook also encouraged churches to aspire to be more than places of shelter from socio-economic, and political storms and instead to become spaces that lead on the quest for a just society.
‘Radicalisation is like a virus, its airborne, it mutates, it’s like a cancer and must be destroyed or it destroys you’ said one contributor.