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Women can help tackle extremism

AWAITING TRIAL: Michael Adebolajo is awaiting trial for the
murder of Lee Rigby who was laid to rest on Friday, July 12

THE LEADER of a community group in the southeast London borough where soldier Lee Rigby was murdered has claimed women could play a big role in the fight against religious extremism.

Yasmin Rehman, chief executive of Greenwich Inclusion Project, said faith groups and authorities should engage women in looking at ways to challenge fundamentalists from the Muslim communitiy and British far right groups.

Speaking at a public discussion event she said: “A lot of these discussions are mainly held by men. We need to include more women in our discussions over how we can connect communities. Women are quite often the gateways to our communities. If there is a problem with our children, who would be the first to know? Mothers, of course.”

The event called After Woolwich - what next for community relations? was hosted at the House of Commons by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community.

It brought together race thinktank Runnymede Trust, Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford, founder of community group Tell MAMA founder Fiyaz Mughal and Newham Borough Commander Simon Letchford to look at what steps need to be taken to improve community relations following the murder of Drummer Rigby on May 22. In the wake of the tragic incident, Islamophobic attacks against individuals and mosques were reported across the country.

To date, 21 mosques in the UK have reportedly been affected, ranging from graffiti to arson and the Metropolitan Police reported a 31.1 per cent increase in attacks against Muslims at the end of May.
Rehman added that the police and Government must be careful not to categorise minority groups by just their religion.

“Minority groups are not homogenous. There needs to better inclusion of those with no faith, as they are as much part of the community as anyone else,” she said. “We have to do so because any small gap will be seized upon by extremists.”

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