Terrorism is considered as a primary threat to the country’s national security. Between January 2009 and December 2010, over 600 people were arrested in the UK for terrorist-related activity, more than in any other European country.
The suicide bombings of London in July 2005, in which 52 people were killed and over 700 injured, were carried out by such UK nationals. These attacks, along with numerous other failed attacks by British Muslims, such as the 2001 shoe bomb plot, and the attack on Glasgow International Airport in 2007, have made clear the threat posed by home-grown terrorism.
British foreign policy, particularly involvement in overseas military action in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, has made the country an obvious target. Social and economic divisions and a lack of social mobility have also been cited as important factors in the radicalization of second-generation British Muslims. In 2007, according to the then director of MI5 Jonathan Evans, there were 2,000 people in the UK who posed a threat to national security because of their support for terrorism.
The internet is considered a particularly significant source of radicalization in the UK context, with social media platforms being used to spread misinformation and encourage violent action among young people.
Work at the grassroots level is vital in order to counteract the pernicious effects of radical groups, challenge stereotypes and engage all sections of the community against violent extremism. While schools, universities, local government and prisons have been engaged in de-radicalization programs in the UK, until now no specific attempts had been made to harness the role of women in work against violent extremism.
The majority of the participants of the SAVE UK launch at the Austrian Embassy in London.
Salma Jabeen, Houriya Ahmed and Sara Silvestri at the SAVE UK launch at the Austrian Embassy in London