PREVENT REVIEW november 2010

We publish here an open letter to The Home Office as part of their review into funding for actions taken against violent extremism.

submission by
Chris Haydon, Director
Community TV Trust

Peckham-based Community TV Trust was commissioned to produce a documentary and DVD on the Mosques in Southwark, their history, and the whole culture of Islam in the Borough. PVE funding supported the venture which launched recently at Tate Modern, generated a very strong turnout and received a warm welcome from a diverse gathering of active and  influential people.

Filming took place with three communities in particular, and included visiting the Mosques they run – Somali, Nigerian and Turkish. Bengalis were represented as well.

The project was created by Sadiq Hoque, a practising Muslim, who lives  
at Elephant & Castle.

Over the course of production, which spanned a twelve month period from November 2009, many enjoyable new links were made across Southwark’s extraordinarily diverse community, both at a personal level and at an organisational level. It was quite evident that those trying to run a successful Mosque were encouraged by visits from Council managers, for example (and of course our cameras and equipment). There was a palpable sense of the wider community formally accepting these worshippers and their way of life into their midst. The range of voices from within the community of Southwark that are now gathered together on this DVD is impressive: multifaith, Muslim, Buddhist, non-Muslim, young, old, professional, student, political, celebrity … it forms quite an array.

What is most needed now is a little financial push to secure the DVD its role out in the community, engendering debate and reflection. Countering the stereotyping and fear-mongering so persistently created by mainstream media is an important job. This DVD, so imaginatively funded out of PVE by Southwark Council’s Emma Kehoe, can do that job.

One can never really know if radicalisation has been prevented. Yet if an aspect of Foreign Policy is judged sufficient by an individual to cause their religious fervour to transform their whole approach to life, then nothing done locally can guarantee deflecting that person from their new chosen path.

However, if that individual lives their life in a community which palpably and self-evidently is welcoming, understanding, interested and respectful, this does at least stand a chance of prompting ‘second thoughts’.

As an ordinary citizen I believe that formal intelligence gathering is powerful ‘in defence of the realm’, but that it cannot do everything and be everywhere. That would after all be Orwellian. What I equally believe is that money invested in the Common Good, across boundaries of ethnicity, age, culture and faith, is powerful too.

PVE has in this instance facilitated an imaginative and wide-ranging project that has begun to touch many parts of our community. It can only lead towards a cohesive future. This is a visionary way of tackling the issue of radicalisation. Bravo.

Rumours of ‘Cohesion’/’Social Cohesion’ being removed from PVE’s agenda are therefore concerning. Please contact Emma Kehoe at Southwark Council or me at Community TV Trust if you would care to view this DVD: “MOSQUE: The Story of Islam in Southwark”.