The British government’s Channel program offers de-radicalization services to those deemed to be at risk. The service is voluntary, however. Last year, out of 245 people identified as at risk of joining the Islamic State, 117 refused government help, reported the Daily Mail.
The data was revealed via a freedom of information request submitted by the BBC’s “World At One” program.
In the wake of the revelations, Labour MP Khalid Mahmoud (representing Birmingham, Perry and Barr), himself a practicing Muslim, has called for the program to be made compulsory. He also warned that some mentors themselves were reinforcing the extremist narrative rather than countering it.
“The whole strategy needs to be looked at,” he told the World At One.
Mahmoud criticized the variety of services used by the Channel program saying “the number of Channel providers is very stagnant, there is hardly any change in providers that the local police authorities use. So you have got a group of people who rarely change – there is no competition, there is no understanding of doing something differently in terms of providing Channel, and that is why it has not been as successful as it should be.”
Mahmoud argued that the program can only work if properly managed, saying, “I think it should become mandatory… but unless you have the right providers, unless you have people who are actually not going to reinforce that ideology, people who are actually trying to move people away from that ideology and the ethos of what they are being taught — that is the only way you will move forward and try to de-radicalise some of these people. And we are not doing that at the moment in Channel.”
Government mandated re-education programs are in principle contrary to the liberal values Western governments are fighting Islamism to protect.
Yet, if almost half of people who need it are refusing to use the government’s program, then, at the very least, the program needs to be radically overhauled.