Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Islamists & Street Gangs, a response to The Observer

Islamists target teen crime gangs in London

Original article is here : http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jan/11/muslim-extremists-crime-gangs-london

Extract :

"Some of London's most notorious teenage criminal gangs are being targeted for recruitment by Islamist extremists, according to Special Branch officials.
Poverty Driven Children, from Brixton, the Muslim Boys, from Camberwell, and the Money Crew, from Hackney, were three gangs identified at a Scotland Yard meeting last month. All were thought to have members who claimed to be radical converts. The fusion of two such corrosive cultures has increased fears that someone could follow the path of Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" and former gang member who tried to blow up a plane."

Dear Sir/Madam

Regarding the article ‘Islamists target teen crime gangs in London’. I spoke to the journalist in his research for the article in my role running a youth record label, Blessed Love Studios, that works with young men and women in South East London who are affected by what we would refer to as a small scale civil conflict otherwise know as ‘gang culture’.

An increasing number of our artists, we have noticed, have converted or are sympathetic or knowledgeable of Islam. I regretfully informed Rajeev that none of them wanted to talk to a journalist on the subject even under anonymity. Not because of the fear of being identified as being in gangs or criminality, but because of their distrust of the media on the subject of Islam. The young Islamic converts we have worked with have often learnt about the faith in our ‘secure estate’ for youths, and I think all would say Islam is a positive role in their life and offers a structure, meaning and value in their lives and ultimately a way of dealing with powerful the affects of racism. Without this faith in Islam or Christianity or Rastafari for that matter, these young people would be considerably more angry and destructive than they are. Sometimes this gets confused and they may refer to themselves as ‘Taliban’, but in our experience these are the individuals who are merely posturing and do not have a serious attachment to Islam.

There is evidently a problem and risk involved by these ‘so called’ Muslim gangs, but we must tread extremely carefully in dealing with them too not enrage feelings of injustice further. We need to understand more and prosecute, condemn and scare less.

Tom Collis (Managing Director)
Blessed Love Studios
99-103 Lomond Grove

The above letter was not published by The Observer

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