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A new British Government campaign: “Muslim women, prevent your sons from volunteering to fight in Syria.”
The British government recently launched a large-scale public campaign aimed at Muslim women; its goal: To prevent young Muslims from volunteering to fight in Syria. According to an HS Today report the campaign was launched by Helen Ball, government coordinator of Counter Terror Policing. According to assessments several hundred Muslim youths have already left to fight in Syria. Over the first quarter of 2014 45 British citizens have been arrested over suspicions related to fighting in the war-torn Middle-Eastern country, compared to 25 arrests made in 2013.
The new campaign is part of the preventative strategy undertaken by the British government concerning British citizens’ involvement in Syria. The campaign was launched on April 24 with an event held at Scotland Yard, London, with a large number of women from various Muslim communities participating. The idea is to encourage women to contact other women all over the country, women worried about young community members volunteering to fight in Syria. Similar events were held – or will be held – all over Britain. In order to reach the greatest number of women a printed document detailing the dangers of traveling to Syria has been distributed in airports and naval ports.
Helen Ball opened the first event by saying: “We’re concerned about the number of youths who left – or who are planning to leave – for Syria in order to take part if the fighting there. Our intention is to give concerned women from the community all the information about the dangers, so that they could prevent their sons or relatives from going. We would like the increase the public’s trust in the police concerning this issue, so that they would use its services to prevent these flights to Syria. Our only purpose is to prevent tragedies, and to inform those who truly wish to help about ways they can do so safely, without risking their lives.”
Some Muslim community figures have already slammed the government campaign, activists claiming that the government views the entire community as guilty and encourages women to spy on youths for the police. Most of their anger concerned the government’s call to women to report any son or relative with intentions of fighting in Syria. Following this criticism some are worried that the campaign will actually encourage youths to head out, rather than remain home. The government’s recommendations to those who want to help: Donate to charities and humanitarian aid organizations who have experience with dangerous environments, especially organizations who are already active in Syria and neighboring countries for some time now.