INSIDE: Special pull-out on the hidden danger of radicalisation
THE young man has a troubled past. He grew up in care and sleeps rough, he has had problems with drugs and alcohol.
He’s desperate for some kind of fresh start but trusts very few people - just a group of men on the streets who have welcomed him as a brother, along with a charity worker who volunteers with the homeless. She has noticed the change in him, these last few weeks. He thinks the change in himself is positive, but the charity worker is deeply concerned.
“I think he’s being radicalised”, she tells the Manchester Evening News. “They (extremists) are out on the streets of Rusholme preaching to people, they are targeting homeless lads. He’s extremely vulnerable.”
The views the teenager has expressed to the charity worker are serious enough for her to report him to the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.
In the wake of the Manchester bomb, in which 22 people were murdered and hundreds injured, the vigilance of the authorities and the public has increased dramatically. The government’s anti-radicalisation drive, Prevent, has been the object of much criticism. But despite this, between April and July of this year the scheme received 200 referrals about potential radicalisation from across the country - twice the amount than in the previous fourmonth period. Understanding radicalisation and how it works isn’t just an abstract problem, an intellectual exercise to challenge academics or politicians.
In 2017, the cold reality of radicalisation is all too palpable and affects all of us, reaches every community, every town and city.
There can now be no doubt that a small but significant number of people, born and raised in Britain, who - as you read this - are in the midst of a process where they may become willing to commit violent acts in the name of an extreme ideology. Understanding how and why this happens is vital to stopping it. As well as the human cost, extremism can drive a wedge between the ordinary Muslim majority and wider society. These events put the spotlight on radicalisation - the process that takes an ordinary person on the street and turns them into someone willing to kill or die for a cause. Here, the MEN looks at how Islamist extremists recruit people, on the streets and in jail, and what campaigners think can be done to stop it.