The failed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow two weeks ago have once again brought Britain’s Muslims back into the spotlight, and sparked renewed feelings of unease and suspicion, despite the alleged perpetrators having come from abroad. In this tense environment, there is an evermore urgent need for counterterrorism authorities to engage with the mainstream British Muslim community, while correctly identifying those that pose a threat to public order.
Drawing on his experience as Deputy Convener of the U.K. Government’s Working Group on “Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism” in the aftermath of 7/7, Ford Visiting Fellow Hisham A. Hellyer discussed the relationship between the British government and the Muslim community with regards to counterterrorism and outreach. He highlighted the diversity within the British Muslim community, and the need for the British government to understand these sectarian, national, and ethnic differences – as well as the need to better understand Islamic terms and labels – in order to more accurately identify and assess the terrorist threat. Additional commentary was provided by Shaarik Zafar, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, and Tony Lord, First Secretary for Justice & Home Affairs in the British Embassy.