Reform for religious education

By | News & Politics
Campaigns in Syria Credit@benswann

In recent reports there has been news about a number of British citizens leaving the UK to join ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) activists, in their quest to challenge groups in Iraq. Several stories have emerged of individuals travelling to join them including two 16 year-old twin sisters from Manchester who have reportedly left to join their brother who is involved with the group. However, the girls are safe and contact strategies with them have been set up. Another teenager, 17 year-old Aseel Muthana, who has also left Britain to join ISIS, has expressed his views via social media. He states that his goal is to remain faithful to his Islamic religion through any action required. His story highlights some fundamental issues that can provide an opportunity for growth.

The news presented could give the impression that the situation is somewhat challenging to the safety of Britain and indeed the world, though on close inspection this is unlikely. Whilst these occurrences must be far from underestimated, the challenges posed by such news coverage rarely amount to the extremity of the original speculations. Society may observe the productive changes, which may grow from such events.

ISIS are Islamic activists, and their followers passionately share this faith to a degree different and more challenging than the traditional Muslim faith. Reports suggest that the ability of the group to hail British Muslims is made possible via the internet in a plethora of video streams, websites, blog content and social media feeds. Whilst there is an abundance of reasons to celebrate the globalisation of information, this fact points out the need for online monitoring, particularly from parents who can regulate the nature of information their children absorb. In this way, we ensure that the next generations are exposed to constructive content.

The internet is an incredible phenomenon. As more of the world gains further access to it, it is necessary to turn our attention to more effective monitoring systems and strategies. There appears to be a focus on young people joining ISIS, and it has been suggested that this is due to the glamourised nature in which the ISIS leader presents himself. This information can give an important insight into the content which can be monitored and counterbalanced.

Due to the way ISIS is portrayed, some suggest that joining the group may appear appealing or exciting to younger people. However, as young people can be more absorbing of education and influenced by learning, it shows the need for more in-depth religious education.

Recently some programmes employing this strategy have been initiated in London, and as the concept is already established, this situation and its consequent reporting could provide a further push for more programmes of this kind.

Eventually, perhaps religious education, (which addresses challenging recruitments and ideas such as those encouraged by ISIS) may be compulsory and taught nationwide, even worldwide. With the ever-increasing availability and variety of online content it is important that we protect and nurture our next generations with an education system that will balance out the influences they may receive elsewhere.

As noted above the nature of the internet to be testing in its dual ability to be both challenging and revolutionary, can be recognised through this situation.

The internet allows everyone to be aware of these global events and proves that there is an ability to act. In one report Conservative MP Liam Fox calls out to the Muslim community to make it clear to their people that the behaviour conducted by ISIS is far from correlative to their religion. This shows that these reports have the ability to reach those who can make a difference, whilst allowing for a balance of opinion towards Muslims who are from stereotyped by the behaviour of ISIS.

It is important to focus on how the many practicalities of the internet may be able to spread this productive message.

What are the productive aspects to British citizens leaving to join ISIS?

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