The Cambridge News reported recently that the Muslim Council of Cambridgeshire (MCC) hit out after monies to prevent radicalisation of Cambridge residents by fundamentalists were handed to Cambridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau. The vice-president of the MCC, Mizra Baig, asked: "Please tell me honestly: do you really think that a young Muslim who is already thinking of committing a suicidal activity would go to the CAB for advice?"
I’m sure the answer would be no; but surely a wannabe suicide bomber wouldn’t seek anti-radicalisation advice from anybody?
This isn’t an academic question, as Cambridge’s Islamic communities have already produced two terrorists: Dr Mohammed Asha (left), who is believed to have inducted Dr Bilal Abdulla into the city’s Hizb-ut Tahrir group, where Abdulla was radicalised and subsequently mounted a suicide attack on Glasgow Airport.
Radicalisation in Cambridge was again put on the agenda by moderate Muslims, who were "appalled" when the Islamic Society was addressed by Dr Haitham al-Haddad, who advised students to "prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world".
And I’m willing to believe that the MCC is composed largely of the more moderate among Cambridge’s 7,000 Muslims. For example, they advised their members not to join a UAF counter-protest when the EDL marched, after a blind man had been thrown out (illegally) of a café because of his guide dog.
But we're all prisoners of our assumptions: one of the MCC's is that "the spate of violence in the name of religion that has plagued the comity of nations is a phenomenon that is to be deliberated upon by the Muslims themselves". In other words, "it’s our business, mind your own" – the position of the apartheid-era South African government.
So I would recontextualise Mr Baig’s question: would somebody worried about an individual being radicalised go to the Muslim Council of Cambridge?