An Islamic school in Britain is holding classes for students as young as 11 years old in order to help them recognise violent propaganda to prevent jihadis from grooming them online.
More than 600 students aged between 11 and 16 attend the Al-Hira Educational and Cultural Centre in Luton, Bedfordshire, each week for weekend and evening classes on the Quran and anti-Islamic State (IS) for the last eight months, the Daily Mail reported on Sunday.
“The premise is simple and I believe that there is an ideological war. As well as IS promoting their crimes they misuse the Quran. We want to teach the children the real message of the Quran and for their mind to be clear,” Imam Muhammad Ehsan Ullah said.
The school syllabus promotes peace and now teaches children to recognise violent propaganda online and use the Koran to determine whether the message they are being told is false.
“If you ask any Muslim they would tell you that it is completely against Islam to kill any innocent person,” he added.
Luton has seen a number of people leaving Britain in order to join the IS and the lectures aim to teach students how IS is targeting young people like them on social media.
Dawood Masood, senior manager of Al-Hira said, “We ask the students that if there is an Islamic State, what does it look like and what are the laws they should have?” He also added, “Part of that is that ISIS have hijacked the sacred name, and they are not what Islam is about.”
Attending Al-Hira for three years, 16 year old Zeeshaan Shazad said, “We are taught that ISIS do not consider other people’s beliefs. We are taught to respect other people and that we are all one with peace and respect. They [ISIS] have quite a lot of videos promoting their activities with guns and violence that are seen by young people. I know a couple of people who have watched those videos and they are very persuasive. But they know that it is wrong and we have been taught to stay away from it.”
In 2015, a family of 12 left Luton to travel to Syria to join IS and in May 2016 two men were convicted for plotting to join IS to kill US soldiers.