Combating Extremism in the UK-Government and Communities Working Together
May 28, 2008
Paul Lynch, the British Consulate General in Houston, spoke at the Gülen Institute Luncheon Forum about combatting violent extremism. He offered a detailed account of how the British government has been working with local communities to prevent radicalization in the UK since 2005. Lynch’s talk centered on the threat of Al-Qaeda, but he reminded those gathered of the recent history of violent extremism in northern Ireland between republican catholic terror groups and nationalist protestant terror groups. “Sadly,” said Lynch, “this is an area in which we in the UK have a lot of experience.”
Before discussing the challenges facing the Muslim community in the UK, Lynch made a point to provide some historical context, stating: “I do not want to give the wrong impression of how Muslims participate in UK society.” The history of Muslims in the UK stretches back well over 1000 years, as Islamic artifacts around the country will attest. Lynch noted that Britain’s first purpose-built mosque was built in 1889. Muslim communities in the UK clearly have deep roots, and the 2001 census counted about 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain, half of whom were born in Britain. And Lynch was proud to note that in all of Europe, Britain has the highest number of Muslim parliamentarians.