Projects with Young Muslims:: British cases and issues (draft)
The UK definitions, interpretations and analyses of the current “crisis” of multiculturalism, with its redirection of discourse and policy towards “integration” has been very influential in relation to Australian policy thinking. The crisis perspective has been driven in particular by the realisation that “home grown” terrorists have emerged within British communities. That is, locally born and raised Britons of the Muslim faith have become a central focus for agencies concerned with security and social cohesion, while other commentators see the response to these issues as potentially undermining a valued tradition of civil rights (Change Institute, 2009b).
British policy has responded to these concerns at a number of levels, from the international to the local. Two key policy initiatives frame the direction of policy and affect the ways in which initiatives have been developed, and the community and critical responses to them. As many analysts have shown, these approaches when used together can produce unexpected and counter-productive outcomes.
The first orientation can be found in “Our Shared Future” (OSF), the 2007 report of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, a fixed term inquiry for the British Dept of Communities chaired by Darra Singh, an Ealing Local Government head. Its report stressed four principles, being: Shared futures; Rights and responsibilities; a national ethics of hospitality; and social justice and decision-making transparency. This approach stressed the need to develop “inclusive practices” that did not single-out young Muslims as “the problem”, but rather address the relations within and between communities, and their greater or lesser economic deprivation or marginalisation. Indeed the Commission specifically sought to address the obvious issue here,
relationships with Muslim communities may have accelerated this debate [about cohesion and integration], but we would ask for a whole community approach to be the driving force of central Government engagement on integration and cohesion. Although the Government rightly takes a particular approach when working with Muslim communities to prevent extremism, work to build integration and cohesion is something separate – and something that has to be about the relationships between all different groups, and the bridges between them. We therefore ask that Government set out a clear narrative about the difference between the two agendas(Commission on Integration and Cohesion, 2007).
The second initiative focuses on anti-terrorism and de-radicalisation, in which surveillance and coercive use of informants can sit uneasily with counter-terrorist partnerships (Lambert, 2008) (T. Archer, 2009) (Spalek, El Awa, & McDonald, 2008).Contest 2 as it is known was released in March 2009 (Prime Minister and Home Secretary, 2009), and proffers four “pillars”, namely: pursue, prevent, protect and prepare. The focus on “prevention” places the onus on local government to maintain high levels of surveillance of what have come to be called “suspect communities”.
This section of the literature review explores a number of recent reports that directly address issues associated with young Muslims in the UK, and in particular programs of social inclusion. These reports relate to projects developed over the past five years, that is, since the invasion of Iraq and the expansion of the “War on Terror”. They tend to demonstrate the tension between “Our Shared Future”, and “Contest 2”.
Writing of the situation facing young Muslims in the UK in 2004, the Soros Foundation provided a snapshot of the communities:
Muslims in the UK are ethnically diverse with a young age profile. They are disproportionately represented in the most deprived urban communities and experience poor housing conditions. Data on education is not collected on the basis of religious affiliation, but the academic achievement of Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils at GCSE level falls below the national average. Muslim children experience high levels of the risk factors associated with child poverty. A higher proportion of working age Muslims have no qualifications than for any other faith group. Muslims are by far the most disadvantaged faith group in the British labour market. They suffer from disproportionate levels of unemployment and inactivity and are over-concentrated in certain low-paying sectors of the economy. UK Muslims report higher rates of illness than all other faith groups and fare poorly on certain health indicators….
Muslims have the youngest age profile of all faith groups in Great Britain. In 2001, one third of Muslims were under the age of 16 as compared to one fifth for the population as a whole. The average age of Muslims is 28, 13 years below the national average. As a result of this younger age profile, Government policies aimed at children and young people will have a disproportionate impact on Muslim communities. (Open Society Institute, 2005:11,13)
The environment in which young Muslims live is of course clouded by other political dimensions, summarised in a recent critical appraisal of government strategies in relation to Muslim organisational engagement. It should be remembered that British Muslims are drawn heavily from Pakistan and Bangladesh, the first of which in particular has been strongly influenced by Wahabist sentiments. Discussing the consequence of this situation, Rich (Rich, 2008) analyses the failure of the pre-2005 (London bombings) strategy of close government relations with the Muslim Council of Britain. The government later distanced itself from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) when it became clear by 2006 that the Council was itself very influenced by Salafist orientations. The MCB was seen as increasingly extremist and provocative, its concern being to expand the space for its version of Islam in the UK, rather than accept the government’s desire for an integration of Muslims into modern Britain, and in particular the government classification of terrorists as criminals rather than (mistaken but never-the-less explicable) Jihadist warriors responding to British policy in the Middle East.
These wider questions came to the fore as well in OSI report. Its discussion of education and young Muslims points to two important dynamics underlying the emerging transformed identities of young men (the second and third immigrant generations). The creation by some of a hyper-masculinity associated with violence can be explained partially as a reaction to dominant society stereotypes of Asian passivity and victimhood, widely held in the 1950s to 1970s representation of Asian men (the first immigrant generation) in British popular culture and the media. Associated with the manufacture of masculinity was a politicisation of religion. Where faith for the first generation had been in general simply that, a set of beliefs and practices about the spiritual realm, for later generations the experience of deprivation and marginalisation had turned being Muslim into a political identity in opposition to White British power. Archer in the detailed study of education and young Muslim identities drawn on by the OSI report, argues that:
The boys’ construction of a ‘strong’ Muslim brotherhood might more usefully be read in terms of intertwining of racial and patriarchal themes, through which boys resist popular stereotypes of ‘weak’ and ‘passive’ Asian masculinity. The boys’ identifications could be seen as straightforwardly challenging this stereotype, replacing it with an alternative association of Muslim masculinity with strength. The boys’ associations between Muslim identity, unity and strength challenge contemporary western ideals of individualistic white masculinity and elsewhere the boys differentiated between ‘strong’ collective Muslim families and unstable, highly individualistic western/white family structure (L. Archer, 2003:50).
The modelling of the conditions under which young Muslims might engage in violent behaviour demonstrates a range of factors influencing their behaviour. As British studies have shown, useful analysis leading to clear policy guidelines in which programs can be effectively developed, requires an appreciation of the multiple directions and modalities through which individuals and groups might interpret the pressures they experience, and incorporate them into an integrated world-view and mind-set. Two recent reports demonstrate how the framing of the issues significantly affects the “narrative” that is drawn from the data.
“Children of International Migrants in Europe” authored by Sociologist Roger Penn, presents the results of an international project that examined the situation of the children of international migrants in Britain, France and Germany. The media release for the unpublished book claims that:
“Watching soaps, reading tabloids and turned off by politics – the children of International Migrants in Britain show a high degree of cultural assimilation compared to their European Neighbours, according to a new study”. The study covered young people in the UK, France and Germany, and challenged “some of the popular assumptions… [showing that there is] powerful evidence of cultural assimilation… no evidence of political radicalism… arranged marriages remained common…. [and] were generally well accepted [by young Indians and Pakistanis] …. young women …preferred to wear the salwar/kameez when outside the home.” Furthermore, young Indians and Pakistanis suffered far less educational disadvantage than elsewhere in Europe, and were much more likely to get to university. The young people were overwhelmingly bilingual, speaking their heritage language at home and with family, and using English outside the home and with friends. Penn is quoted in summary to say “Britain’s model of multiculturalism is proving far more effective for the incorporation of ethnic minority groups than French ‘assimilationist’ or German ‘ethnic nationalist’ ones.” (http://domino.lancs.ac.uk/info/lunews.nsf/r/8d6a).
In early September 2009 the media also reported on a rather different take on a similar subject. The Policy Research Centre, an Islamic Think Tank associated with Leicester’s Islamic Foundation, published the results of its research under the title “Seen and Not Heard: Voices of Young British Muslims”. The PRC media release continues, “A major new study of Britain’s Muslim youth published today argues that young Muslims clearly see themselves as British, but also feel let down in several ways by a society that misreads them – but wastes no time in speaking about them!”. The study sought to “explore to a reasonable degree the level and type of influence a contact with Islamic teachings has on young Muslim men and women; and explore the extent of and the tensions of this on the lives of young people; [and] explore the impact of the media on the self-perception of young Muslims; and probe the extent of this impact in the areas of social exclusion, identity and self-esteem” (Ahmed, 2009). Five key areas are discussed – education, identity belonging and citizenship, community leadership, media, and policing and crime.
The report argues that the rhetoric at government level in relation to the needs of young Muslims is not being translated into listening to their needs, and responding in a positive manner. The Cohesion duty placed on schools in 2007 (Spalek, El Awa, McDonald, & Lambert, 2009)has not really been activated for the benefit of young Muslims, while the “stop and search” regime that targets young Muslims if they appear visibly different to the societal majority has intensified their sense of victimisation.
The report discusses the effect of the Cohesion approach, noting the establishment by the British government of a Young Muslims Advisory Council. The establishment of the Council (along with a Muslim Women’s Advisory Council) in 2008 demonstrates the earlier decision of the Government to bypass the Muslim Council of Britain, which as noted above was seen to be not only conservative and occasionally inflammatory, but also unrepresentative of either young people or women. Indeed in March 2009 the government formally severed all ties with the MCB, after its chair signed a declaration in support of Hamas. Speaking about the YMAC prior to its first national conference in March 2009, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears noted, “This group is part of our long term vision to empower young people to shape the society they live in by being active citizens and making a positive contribution – the conference, I am certain, is the first positive step of many to come” (http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1182023). The conference addressed five main themes, including the prevention of violent extremism, local community activism, bridge building between faith communities, the impact of foreign policy on young people, and understanding the police. The 23 young people on the Council reflect a new, urban and educated (nearly all are either studying or university graduates) population.
In discussing the Council the PRC points to two problems of perception – that the Council was created as part of the Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda and is thus viewed through that prism, which for some Muslims is a pretext for racist harassment of the community by police and security services; and the suggestion that the government may be selecting future leaders, which current Muslim community leaders would see as their organisations’ prerogative. However it also argues that government recognition of the specific issues affecting young Muslims (after 7/7) has allowed a flow of resources never previously provided, and the opening up of avenues of communication that never previously existed.
The PRC report reflects on some of these issues, and points to the critical roles played by the voices that young Muslims hear. Two broad influences are discussed – the experience of hearing about the Islamic faith within the religious institutions of mosques and madrassahs (only 3% attend Muslim faith schools), and the experience of hearing about Muslims in the British media. Many young Muslims (5-13 yo) attend madrasahs to learn “a rudimentary knowledge of Islam” (p.33) for two hours after each school day. While prayers and rituals are sometimes taught, most emphasis is on rote learning of the Qur’an. While ethical practice and positive morality could be core to this experience, for the most part little or no time is spent on anything other than the rote learning.
Moreover, recent research on “challenges to Muslim youth” referred to in the report, notes rising incidences of mental health problems (also occurring among non-Muslim youth), worry about relationships (including sexuality), and concerns with the role of religiosity. Lack of recreational opportunities forces young people to hang out together in public spaces, where they soon become targets (in their terms) for police harassment.
The report also documents the scarcity of services for young Muslims, and the community-based agencies that have been established to attempt to fill the gaps. These include the Muslim Youth Helpline (established August 2001), a telephone and internet based counselling service, and the Muslim Youth Work Foundation (2006), which provides training and consultancy to local governments.
Should faith-focussed youth work be a priority, or does it isolate young Muslims from other young people? This question has become a core issue in British youthwork debates. Are they young British people, who happen to be Muslim, or Muslims who are young who happen to be in Britain? Should the strategy focus on sustaining them in their Muslim faith and drawing them towards a faith-based lifestyle and orientation to the world, or should it address their unique identity and the issues they are struggling with, of which their faith is only one (though it may have ramifications for many others)?
There is a plethora of faith-based youth groups, most of which are not professional youth-work organizations. They are attached to a number of the tendencies that operate in the UK, which for the Pakistanis (some 60% of all British Muslims) include groups such as the Deobandis and Tablighi Jamaat, Barelvis, the Jamaat-e Islami and the Ahl-e-Hadith (Change Institute, 2009a). Thus the Islamic Society of Britain operates Young Muslims UK, while the Muslim Council of Britain has Youth Committee (complete with flickr site http:// www.flickr.com/photos/mcbyc/. The Muslim Public Affairs Council operates a website that aims to “to empower Muslims to fulfil our Islamic duty to strive for justice” (http://mpacuk.org). Youth organizations associated with various mosques and local groups operate in cities all over Britain. Muslim Youth Helpline has also established http://Muslimyouth.net, which runs a series of online mental health, gang violence and other campaigns directed at Muslim youth.
The report goes on to show that the Muslim community is multicultural, complex and multidimensional; for young people, peer esteem is a very important motivating factor, so participation in Muslim groups (formal and informal) is seen to be safer than participation in mixed groups. Then of course the locus of esteem shifts from demonstrating “Britishness” to non-Muslim peers, to demonstrating “Muslimness” to Muslim peers, further re-orienting young people towards a Muslim way of being British. Close friends become role models for each other, intensifying identity through reciprocal approval. The British evidence suggests that intergenerational relations are also often difficult, with the cultural differences between generations intensifying other dimensions of intergenerational tensions. Some of the issues relate to language – young Muslims overwhelmingly speak their heritage language poorly, and operate most comfortably in English, a language their parents may not speak well. Youth patois or street slang also amplifies the communication problems.
Moreover, the report suggests that “Muslim youth are not choosing to remove themselves from the mainstream democratic system but the system is perhaps unwilling or unable to listen to their views of ‘dissent’, deciding to label this as disloyal.” (p. 50). This is particularly the case for the media, which the young people in the report criticized from two perspectives. Firstly the attention of the media on Muslim “Jihadists” raises the profile of extremists, and in an alternative-free context makes them dangerously (though not necessarily violent) teaching about Islam, in order to find resources to defend their identity and their faith.
So what does the report think could be done to improve the situation for young Muslims, and between young Muslims and the wider British society? Education should include Muslim dimensions of world and British history, to validate the Muslim story as part of the development of civilization, and as part of the British story. This would have two effects – enable Muslim youth to feel pride in their history as a part of British history (not opposed to it); and ensure wider understanding among non-Muslim peers about the Muslim presence as part of Britain’s development. This should be complemented by the development of a national oral history archive to capture the stories of the Muslims who contributed to modern Britain.
The report notes the absence of contemporary relevant British Muslim role-models and the break-down in communication between young Muslims and their parents and grandparents. Where youth support services exist they are actively used and serve to provide a rare environment of sympathetic understanding, often missing with parents or the wider society. The media are also seen to be a problem – with some occasional break-throughs, but experienced as overwhelmingly negative. The “blogosphere” and cable tv (eg Al-Jazeera English) are seen to be alternative sources of news and communication. However the lack of trusted media and the sense of permanent harassment in the media means this is both a crucial but an extremely difficult issue to address.
Finally policing is addressed – with the report pointing to the broad issues of class and poverty. It is more important to “focus on economics over culture, on class over race” (p.83) to ensure that young Muslims feel that they have a stake in the future of the country and that their own lives can improve, and that they can influence public policy on the matters that concern them. The recommendations take up these themes – more targeted professional youth work and greater informed awareness of Muslim issues among mainstream agencies. Commenting on the “religious” framing of Muslim issues, the report argues that these “need to be dealt with in their own context, i.e. theological issues through a religious prism, youth issues through youth provision, and disengagement issues through social, economic and political structures”(p.85). In education specific attention should be given to improving the performance and outcomes of Muslim boys, while schools should become “safe and neutral” places for inter-community engagement. Mosques should establish outreach projects in which trained youth workers are involved, or the imams involved should be trained in youth work strategies. Media literacy courses should be part of youth programs to improve the capacity of young people to understand how the media works, and respond to it; these courses should be complemented by affirmative employment programs in the media which recruit young Muslims.
The coercive environment that confronts young Muslims also needs to be transformed. Policing should be done in partnership with communities, not against them. There is widespread community resistance to policy discourses that use loaded terms such as cohesion or integration, which can be read as anti-Muslim, or require adaptation to the mores of White British culture that are not necessary for social stability and non-violent relationships.
Our rather extensive examination of this report allows us to look at the complex world of young Muslims in Britain through a policy and program lens (the report also has an extensive up to date reference list). Yunas Samad, a well-know researcher on British Muslim communities based in the northern city of Bradford, has argued that the generational shift is extremely important in gaining an understanding of the contemporary dynamics. He points out that “Muslim organisations are led by the elder generations and there are very few avenues for Muslim youth to exert there influence or views on them (Samad, 2004:9).” Furthermore the emergent Muslim youth culture in Britain is a syncretic amalgam of White working class culture, re-emergent and politicized Islam (generated by the Salman Rushdie fatwa affair, and the two Gulf Wars), and an identity affected by their sense of alienation from British society of which nevertheless they feel themselves a part. Samad also points to the very different dynamics affecting young women as compared with men. Women may find in religion ways to evade traditional “pre-modern” conservative constraints imposed by parents (eg allowing them to delay marriage until the completion of education).
Gender values and behaviour mark one of the main public debates about Muslims in Britain (http://www.ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=336:the-muslim-woman-paradox&catid=16:islamic-affairs&Itemid=38) . Whether this debate occurs within the context of arranged marriages, the wearing of hijab or niqab, the age of marriage, or the right of women to independent lives, careers and incomes, the question of gender has the capacity to inflame nearly all the parties involved. The British government has specifically addressed Muslim women through the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group, and in the “Empowering Muslim Women: Case Studies” document, a commitment of the PVE policy. The EMW studies encompass 15 projects in economic participation, education, civic participation, arts culture and sports, and preventing violent extremism (PVE).
The challenges that emerge relate to economic marginalisation, political powerlessness, and civic non-engagement. Muslim women were far less likely to have paid employment, far less likely to formally volunteer in civil society organisations, and generally less likely to do any informal volunteering work than non-Muslim British women. This indicates that many will live fairly isolated lives, or lives constrained by family duties. They have little enough voice in their own communities, and are barely heard at all in wider British society. The projects described in the EWM document point to a series of factors that contribute to success in expanding their opportunities for engagement – user participation, user empowerment through education and language skills , economic and personal skills development, knowledge acquisition, and “conscientization” through building of awareness about the political dimensions of their situation.
A project that aims to empower local communities has been developed by Watford Borough Council in conjunction with the Improvement and Development Agency, a support service to local government. The PVE initiative has provided the framework and motivation for the Watford Project (http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=8828667) which has two strands –
* To build confidence in the statutory authorities and enable the sharing of concerns and intelligence.
* To promote understanding and acceptance of shared values and encourage dialogue and engagement between communities, thus building resistance to violent extremist messages.
Watford BC has a number of Muslim councilors and supports the Watford Muslim Project, a community development process. Caught up in the programs generated by the PVE, Watford was at first reluctant to approach the PVE program for support. Ultimately it was agreed to proceed, though at the IdEA website notes,
In discussions with the local mosques, there was an understandable reluctance to be associated with the Pathfinder Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) funding. This could have been seen to link the Muslim community with terrorism…. However, there is a real willingness to improve understanding between groups. There is also a keen desire for Muslim communities in Watford not to allow pockets of violent extremism to operate.
The Council’s focus turned to a research project to identify needs and wants among local Muslims. This was undertaken with local mosques and Muslim groups, which helped to set up focus groups and arrange contacts. A number of local groups ran events through the period, including a discussion on ’fashion today and the dignity of women’. Skills development for Muslim women included IT classes and the organisation of weekly discussion meetings. Issues identified included lack of contact between neighbourhood safety groups and the Muslim community, and the problem of young people reducing their use of community facilities as they enter their teens.
As part of its “Prevent” work, Waltham Forest Borough Council has developed a Young Muslim Leaders’ (YML) program (http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=10366633 ). The aims include to build leadership capacity in young Muslims and to develop young Muslims as peer mentors. The program sought to give young Muslims an opportunity to identify themselves as a welcome part of wider British society and feel accepted at a local level. Young people were involved with community agencies, supported by the police in partnership. They developed speaking skills, engaged in media debates and acted as mentors. The program has now extended to ‘disengaged’ young people at risk, and has also focused on building the numbers of young women. For example a small group of young women now advises the police and Council on protocols when dealing with older Muslim women.
In summary, the British policy environment has been restructured through two major government initiatives – the PVE and OSF. One focuses on the threat posed by “violent extremists”, and has been seen by Muslim communities as unfairly tagging all Muslims with the “violence” label. Nevertheless there have been many local level initiatives where PVE funds have facilitated projects that moved more towards the philosophy of OSF. In a discussion of “what works” in cross-community interaction, Andrew Orton addresses the critical parameters – the notion of parallel lives, residential “self-segregation”, social exclusion, diversity and trust, and the broad issues underlying social capital as a proxy concept for the conditions necessary to reduce the threat of violent extremism (Orton, 2009). Orton establishes four principles and eleven recommendations. The principles note that spaces and places need to be created where people can interact, building on their identities; those involved in building bridges can pay a high personal cost and so should be valued and supported; supportive contexts need to be sustained over time, which should tackle inequalities. The recommendations speak to “listening” to all those affected, ensuring equity in service provision so that resentment doesn’t grow in those who “miss out”, and ensuring mentoring and support is delivered to all those in the process. Orton concludes by noting “Ultimately, these findings highlight how developing improved interactions is a long term, educational and relational process; ie it is an art which requires committed practitioners who are able to draw individuals and groups together to find commonalities and explore differences, whilst managing their own identity and role in the process” (p.8).
The British situation is complex and multivarious. However it is possible to identify some key directions. British Muslims are much younger than the general population, and their numbers are increasing rapidly. While many live in poverty or disadvantage, a significant minority have entered the higher education systems and are emerging among the new generation of young professionals. Nevertheless, there is a history of antipathy and antagonism that has shown itself in urban riots (Burnley, Bradford, Oldham etc.) the outcomes of which (many Muslims saw the legal actions against young Muslims as unfair and discriminatory) have further angered and alienated Muslim young people. Despite the fact that in general Muslim young people in Britain are better off, better educated and more integrated than Muslims elsewhere in Europe, they are worse off, less well educated and more disengaged than their non-Muslim British peers.
They tend to distrust the mass media though they “hear” it, and usually they don’t like what they hear. They don’t in general respect their parental generation who they see as (variously) insufficiently Muslim, too conservative and traditional, too authoritarian, too backward looking or too self-serving. They do however listen to those who speak to “a true lslam” (and there are many claims to this status), and are drawn to preachers who can reinforce their sense of identity and personal integrity. There are many different Muslim tendencies and none has overarching authority or authenticity. Young people want to be listened to and they want to be treated with respect, for their values, their contributions and their presence. They want to feel that they can influence the big issues, and not be disregarded – in this they are like non-Muslim young people. However they are particularly worried about what happens to Muslims in the world’s trouble spots and in general do not like what the British government is involved in, in places such as Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. They feel that on these issues the Government does not and will not listen to them. That does not mean they have a common view of what should happen.
Where programs of engagement work they are either Muslim initiated with local support, or local programs which actively involve Muslims in defining the issues and developing the solutions. Young Muslims identify strongly with their local areas and feel some ownership over what occurs there. Local projects can collapse without sustained support from government or foundations, and therefore are intrinsically fragile. The gender dimensions of these programs have to recognize intergenerational issues, the cultural sensitivities involved, and the marginalisation of women in some Muslim organizations. Disengaged and at risk youth exist in significant numbers, and require pro-active youth work, where police involvement is through partnerships (Spalek et al., 2009).
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Archer, L. (2003). Race, Masculinity and Schooling: Muslim boys and education. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
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Spalek, B., El Awa, S., McDonald, L., & Lambert, R. (2009). A Study exploring Questions relating to Partnership and Religion in the Prevention of Violent Religio-Political Extremism amongst Muslim Youth: Project Outputs Birmingham: AHRC Religion & Society Programme & University of Birmingham.
 A flavour of the group and the Government’s “take” on its role, can be seen in one member who is described when appointed in October 2008 as “a member of the Bradford Youth Service she set up her own not for profit organisation how to drum and perform poetry. She is a member of the Bradford Socialist Workers Party and of the organisation Love Music Hate Racism. She also volunteers part time at the Barnados Charity shop and writes on a freelance basis for a number of magazines”. (http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/987399) When the Council first meets in March 2009 she has been politically sanitised, and is described as “a hate crime researcher, community relations developer and youth mentor with Bradford Civil Rights Group. A member of Bradford Youth Service’s Arts and Politics groups, she runs her own not for profit organisation teaching and performing drumming and poetry. She was involved in the Women Working Towards Excellence OurLives project which used workshops and films to dispel myths, empower and champion Muslim women in Bradford (http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1182023)