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Cyber radicals: Children and online radicalisation

The pandemic restrictions have been tough on children in particular, who have lost their socialisation opportunities and are now increasingly trying to find a cure to the boredom brought by the erosion of routine and social activities.

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Cyber radicals Children and online radicalisation

Just when Britons thought face masks and other restrictions are going to become a thing of the past, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay of four weeks to the next phase of England’s lockdown reopening. Due to a surge in the Delta variant, first discovered in India. Johnson said at news conference held on Monday evening that he thought it was “sensible to wait just a little longer” – a disappointment for the majority of Britons who are now longing to return to a normal social life.

In addition to the many direct casualties coronavirus has been responsible for, namely the countless number of deaths, this virus has also absolutely shaken the societal balance. The restrictions and numerous lockdowns mandating ‘stay at home’ orders has exposed each vulnerable part of the society to a number of risks.

The pandemic restrictions have been tough on children in particular, who have lost their socialisation opportunities and are now increasingly trying to find a cure to the boredom brought by the erosion of routine and social activities. 

This very boredom has, according to a new report published by the Newstatesman, led to an increase in time spent online. There has also been an increase in children being radicalised by far-right, extremist ideologies. 

Despite a decades-long media and political focus on Islamist extremism, almost as many young people are now being referred to The Prevent Strategy, a controversial anti-terrorism programme by the government, aimed at stopping terrorism.

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10 out of the 12 under-18s arrested for terror offences in the UK in 2019 had links to extreme right-wing ideology, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu revealed last year. Meanwhile the proportion of referrals of under-twenties referred to Prevent for far-right radicalization in England and Wales doubled between 2016 and 2020, as the share of referrals for Islamist radicalization concurrently fell.

The report further suggests that while each individual case of radicalization is unique, there are a number of common themes: trauma, ostracization, family disorder and other psychological problems which might make younger people susceptible to the “typical grooming techniques” used by the far right to lure them in.

Another study has highlighted that social distance and the security measures have affected the relationship among people and their perception of empathy toward others. The research involved a sample of 1,143 parents of Italian and Spanish children (range 3–18). In general, parents observed emotional and behavioural changes in their children during the quarantine: symptoms related to difficulty concentrating (76.6%), boredom (52%), irritability (39%), restlessness (38.8%), nervousness (38%), sense of loneliness (31.3%), uneasiness (30.4%), and worries (30.1%) were on the rise.

Last year, Wales’ stop counter-terrorism police officer even warned that despite a slight decline in anti-terror referrals since lockdown, Detective Superintendent Jim Hall said, “children may have been radicalized at home” calling at people and teachers specifically to be vigilant to sudden changes in behaviour. 

Mr. Hall added that extremist recruiters had adapted “their narratives and methods” to create “discord and distrust within communities” during the coronavirus pandemic. In a BBC report, posts about far-right online chat groups linking the anti-racism group Black Lives Matter to terrorist organizations were found. Other posts claimed that Muslims are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 because they had not observed lockdown guidelines, and many perpetuate conspiracy theories about Chinese involvement in the intentional spread of the virus.

These figures are enough for parents to feel chills down their spine. According to the counter-terror groups, education and prevention is key in tackling this sensitive phenomenon. However, all the current restrictions mean that only those who get to interact with children the most, mainly parents and caretakers, be on their guard. Parents must develop, and change if required, their interaction with children in order to cope with the lack of purpose lockdown has brought upon. In other words, the current situation requires for parents to adapt their routines and develop an enhanced sense of empathy and understanding for their children. Instead of allowing your children to use the Internet unattended, communicating and forging a bond of friendship is now imperative in order to avoid symptoms like depression from rising. It is often said that home is the first school and parents are the first teachers. Leaving children prey to the dangers of the virtual world would mean conceding it the role of a third parent.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Crime

From witch-hunting to testimonies: Gambia’s transition to democracy 

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52nd Independence Anniversary Celebrations and Inauguration of His Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow President of the Republic of The Gambia Saturday 18th February 2017 scaled

Transitioning to a democracy can be a difficult move particularly for a country that has experienced a violent past. For 22 years the Gambia was ruled by President Yahya Jammeh, known for human rights abuses, gender-based violence, harassment, torture and in particular, witch hunts, but was finally toppled by Adama Barrow in 2016. 

Witch hunting started in 2009 when President Jammeh claimed that the cause of his aunt’s death was witchcraft. As a result, several witch hunts took place throughout the country. Those who were suspected of witchcraft were forced into detention centres where they would be stripped naked and beaten until they would confess that they had carried out murders using witchcraft. Additionally, they were forced to drink a herbal concoction which caused many to fall sick and some to even die. The elderly who were mostly suspected of witchcraft faced the worst of the beatings.

However, it was not just witch hunting that defined Jammeh’s leadership. Human rights abuses, the lack of freedom of press and harassment of political opponents shaped a significant amount of his leadership. Deyda Hydara, editor of the daily The Point newspaper, had previously spoken up against the dictatorial regime. In 2004 Hydara was killed in a drive by shooting. Despite many pointing their fingers at Jammeh, he denied any link to the murder of the respected journalist. But in 2019 as part of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), Malick Jatta, a member of the Junglers – a death squad known to have done the ‘dirtiest work’ for the former President – confessed to Hydara’s murder at the behest of Jammeh.

When the former President lost the 2016 election to Adama Barrow, a property developer who achieved a 45.5% majority compared to Jammeh’s 36.7% Jammeh refused to accept the result. However, he was forced into exile to Equatorial Guinea. 

Adama Barrow’s win has been a turning point for the Gambia. He was the first President to start the country’s transition to democracy and freedom after Jammeh. Barrow was a favourite and was easily re-elected in December 2021 with a 53% majority. Under his Presidency, Barrow established the TRRC and hearings began in January 2019. It was set up to seek justice and a sense of peace for the victims of Yahya Jammeh. The commission included a large number of testimonies with hundreds of victims and perpetrators stating their personal accounts on what had taken place under the 22 years of the dictatorship. 

Alongside the TRRC,, the UN has supported 2,000 victims through the Victim Participation Support Fund. The fund provides ‘psychosocial support and essential medical interventions’. Furthermore, approximately 30 people who testified during the TRRC were provided with witness protection. The TRRC concluded on 28thMay 2021 and was a way to close the door on Gambia’s traumatic past. Despite the conclusion of the commission, many Gambians to this day live in fear as the reward promised for those who confessed to crimes under Jammeh and who were previously part of the Junglers, was release from jail. This decision not only stops victims achieving justice but also gives them a life where they will continually live in fear. Many of Jammeh’s ‘henchmen’ remain in positions of authority in the Gambia including in the army, the Government and the national intelligence service ensuring victims remain uneasy. Yahya Jammeh may have left and lost his power over the Gambia, but the harsh impact of his rule still lingers within many people today.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

‘Biggest’ Neo-Nazi in UK Jailed for Eight Years

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Alex Davies, a 27-year-old man from Swansea, Wales was jailed for being part of the racist National Action (NA) group in the UK. This fascist group was banned in 2016 but he kept running it under the radar as it morphed into regional factions.

The new “continued group” was called NS131- National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action and it covered the southern part of the country. They were inspired by Hitler and the logo of the organization was based on Sturmabteilung, the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party.

The jury found him guilty of running this group and he was sentenced to eight and a half years at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey in London. The judge, Mark Dennis QC also ordered him to spend another year on extended license for his extremist views.

Davies was also the co-founder of this neo-Nazi group with the aim to start a “race war” in the UK. NA was found in 2013 by him and his partner Ben Raymond who was jailed last year for eight years as well.  The new group came to attention when they celebrated the death of MP Jo Cox.

During the trial, he was described as “probably the biggest Nazi of the lot” and a “terrorist hiding in plain sight” by the jury. While the group NA was described as the most extreme British far-right group after World War Two. He and his peers preyed on young people, grooming them to fit his twisted views.

While addressing him on the dock, Judge Mark Dennis QC said: “You are an intelligent and educated young man but you have held, over a period of many years, warped and shocking prejudices.”

“This was a well-orchestrated and determined effort to flout the ban on the activities of National Action and continue to promote and strive to achieve the long-held objectives,” the Judge added.

In his defense, Davies claimed that this new group was different from NA and he was only “exercising his democratic rights”. However, the prosecutor did not agree with his words and compared the two groups which made it hard to believe these were not the same groups just under different names.

“The same name – National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action (NS131) – take out the three middle words and you are left with a big clue: National Action,” he said.

Continuing, the prosecutor made even more comparisons, “Same colours – black and white, colours of Sturmabteilung. Same look of designer Benjamin Raymond, a convicted NA member… The same leader – this defendant, who makes it all happen. Same regional structure – adapted and redrawn following proscription, and so many familiar faces from the old guard.”

Davies was the 19th member convicted of being part of this group. A lot of them have been caught while planning dangerous things. One member was convicted for making pipe bombs while another, for plotting to kill MP Rosie Cooper with a machete.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Another Mass Shooting Kills 4 in Tulsa Hospital

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Adding to the long tally of mass shootings in the US, a gunman has killed 4 people at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The shooter, Michael Louis, blamed one of the hospital’s physicians for causing him pain after a recent back surgery. Louis opened fire in the hospital killing two doctors, a receptionist and a patient after which he killed himself. The assault-style weapon used in the shooting was purchased the very same day as the attack. The story of the Tulsa shooting is very similar to several other shooting incidents in recent years: a man aged 15 – 30 steals a gun from a family member or buys one with alarming ease and uses it within a few days to kill several innocent people in a public space. It is high time we close this book before the story repeats itself again and the only way to safely ensure that is by passing adequate gun safety laws in the US.

Last week after a mass shooting in a Texas elementary school left 19 children and 2 teachers dead, politicians were quick to offer thoughts and prayers as well as promises of change. However after 7 days and 20 more mass shootings, it seems that our country’s leaders have no intention to actually follow through on their promises. So far in 2022 there have been 231 mass shootings and zero monumental gun control laws. This stark contrast begs the question: why are US officials doing nothing to protect the public from harmful gun sales and the overall prevalence of assault-style weapons? The answer seems to lie in the fact that White House politicians would rather line the streets with dead bodies than reject the NRA’s dollars and dimes. 

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a strong and wealthy American organization that uses lobbying as a method to gain political influence and sway gun control laws. Not all US politicians accept NRA money, however enough do that passing any gun control legislation in the country is extremely difficult. At a NRA conference in Houston just two days after the Texas school shooting incident, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre criticized calls for gun control by stating that “restricting the fundamental human rights of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves is not the answer. It never has been”. Pierre went on to propose arming school teachers as an alternate solution to the issue of mass shootings. Of course, there could be no harm in increasing the volume of firearms in public places where the weapon would be easily accessible for misuse or theft. Forget making a pit stop before opening fire in a school, shooters would now have their victims and weapons already present in one contained area. 

While these words and scenarios may seem harsh, they present the cruel reality of modern gun control debates in the US. Rather than lengthening the time it takes to purchase a gun or running more efficient background checks, there is a sizable group of NRA supporters which agrees that the true solution to mass shootings is to arm everyone so that no one will actually dare to shoot. The problem with this “fully-armed world” is that it takes just one bullet to spark a massacre. This is not a solution; a true solution would ensure that no bullet is ever used to harm another, and this can only become reality when we regulate whose hands we are putting bullets in.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Saira is a Muslim American with a passion for writing, economics, and justice.  With a background as a UC Berkeley graduate with a bachelors in economics allows her to quantitatively analyze critical developments from around the globe as well as their long term impacts on financial systems and social welfare. She is dedicated to reporting in an investigative, honest and compassionate manner to give voice to those who need it most.

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Society

Domestic Abuse: Remove Word ‘Honour’ from Asian Cases says Report

The term ‘honour abuse’ is unfair to domestic abuse victims a UK report says

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Honour abuse

A report released by the Center of Social Justice went in-depth on the extent of abuse faced by the small communities, revealing that domestic abuse affects more than 2 million men, women, and children in the United Kingdom.

However, in Asian and closed-knit communities, domestic abuse is not the term used. The phrase most often heard is “honour abuse.” 

The report states that “health care professionals (and often other services) are wary of criticising cultural perceptions of “honour” lest they invite accusations of racism, bias, and prejudice.” The fear of judgment results in health practitioners and professionals hesitating to treat domestic abuse victims of any minority descent, especially Asians.

Therefore, the term “honour” should be removed from all official documents because it “only reflects the perpetrator’s rather than their victim’s viewpoint,” making it uncomfortable for the health professional to use and thus avoid the whole situation. 

Shaila Pervez of Roshni Birmingham says: “The term is wrong because, in our community, it denotes only one thing – an honour killing. These victims do not identify with the government definition of their suffering, and we should change it.”

It singles out one or two communities, Pakistan or Afghanistan, as the term is most often used among them, she adds. However, there are victims of honour abuse from other minorities, such as Gipsy, Roma, Travellers, and the Haredi Jewish community. 

Domestic abuse in Asian and small communities is seen as part of normal behaviour, which leads to it being underreported. In cases where it is reported, authorities and health professionals do not respond to the abuse as enthusiastically because they don’t want to offend the community. 

The UK Crown Prosecutor describes honour-based abuse as “a collection of practices used to control behaviour within families or other social groups to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and honour. Such abuse can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and community by breaking their honour code.” 

This involves violence, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion, or abuse, including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse, on the victim. 

According to data from the Office of National Statistics, there were more than 700,000 incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police between March 2019 and March 2020.

The victim of such “honour” abuse is usually a woman of the family, and the perpetrators are the men of the family. It also involves mothers-in-law, parents, relatives, and even other members of society and the husband. 

It had become a public health concern, especially during the pandemic when families were locked in the same house for long periods. Domestic abuse shot up by 20% during the Covid-19 pandemic. Similarly, the Asian Women’s Refuge Center recorded a 30% increase in calls from victims during the pandemic. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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World

Texas Shooting: How Britain Curbed Gun Violence After a Massacre in Scotland

As another violent school shooting rocks America, how can the UK’s approach to guns help tackle the crisis?

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Texas shooting

Gun control hurtled back into U.S political agenda after the Texas shooting when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos stormed into an elementary school in Uvalde. Amongst his victims were at least 19 pupils and two teachers. 

The Texas shooting is the 214th mass shooting in 2022. Committed by a “lonely” teenager who suffered bullying as a child, it sparked fervent debate on whether gun reform needs to be brought to the table. 

US President Joe Biden called on the country to stand up to the gun lobby, formed of individual legislators as well as groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage,” he said at a press conference.

Anger After Texas Shooting

Other Democratic politicians also spoke up in outrage. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demanded Senate Democrats should stop trying to postpone or prevent a vote to introduce gun reform measures.

Beto O’Rourke, former US Rep. for Texas, who campaigns to ban AR-15s and AK-47s in civilian life, said: 

“I think we are fools to believe anything other than that these weapons of war will continue to be used with greater frequency against our fellow Americans.”

However Republican Senator Ted Cruz, in whose state the Texas the shooting occurred, labelled any challenges to his unflinching support to arm ordinary citizens as “political agenda.” 

Only days after the shooting, the US’ neighbouring state, Canada, pledged to introduced tighter laws on the possession of handguns. 

“Other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, as he promised to implement new laws after the Texas shooting to clamp down its widespread sale with harsher penalties and advertising limitations.

Dunblane massacre, 1996

Another shooting that occurred 26 years ago, at a school across the pond in Dunblane, Scotland, also resurfaced in online discussions. 

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The shooting in Dunblane killed 16 young schoolchildren

The Dunblane massacre took the lives of 16 primary schoolers aged six and seven and one teacher. But the 15-minute ordeal at Dunblane Primary School led to swift legislative gun restrictions England, Wales and Scotland. 

Conservative Prime Minister, John Major instated the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997. It banned the private ownership of cartridge ammunition handguns except for .22 calibre single shot weapons in the three nations of the UK.

It was in response to recommendations in the Cullen Reports, which were drawn up following inquiries into to the incident, and subsequent campaigning by a newly founded ‘Gun Control Network’ as well as the Snowdrop Campaign (both led by parents of the child victims).

Law & Statistics

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That same year, the newly elected Labour government, led by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, cemented this crackdown on gun violence when it introduced the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, making it illegal to possess .22 calibre handguns.

Alongside it, they introduced a buyback programme rewarding £150 million to people who gave up their guns.  

The World Population Review records 155 total deaths per year by firearm in the three nations of the UK, as of 2022. Per 100,000 population, the annual rate is 6.93. In comparison, the US records 40,175 deaths by firearm per year as, with a firearm-related death rate per 100,000 standing at 12.21 annually.

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Since legislative action came in force, the three nations of the UK that saw law change, have had fewer cases of gun violence, with only two occurring since. Whereas, in the nine years before Dunblane massacre, another one in a small town in South England, remembered as the Hungerford massacre, killed 16 adults and injured a further 15 people. 

The longstanding issue of gun violence in the US is unlikely to be resolved without an apolitical crackdown on gun ownership. But bipartisan support for legislative action is necessary for it to happen.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

US Police Reform: A Murder, A Movement, and An Executive Order

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2 years ago George Perry Floyd Jr. was murdered by veteran police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd’s alleged crime was counterfeiting a $20 bill; his real crime? Being born Black in America. 

At the time, the murder of George Floyd was the latest in a long line of aggressions against Black Americans which had taken the lives of countless others. Pent-up frustration from being dehumanized for centuries coupled with the unjust killing of a young Black man by the very organization meant to protect the public rekindled a long-standing struggle to change the social and cultural landscape of America: people standing up to bring about change in a civil manner.

The term “Black Lives Matter” was first coined after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and it continued to gain traction after the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York. All three of these victims were young Black men who were targeted for the color of their skin and paid a hefty price to live with that skin in America, the land of institutionalized racism. Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the the voices of concerned Black Americans garnered international attention as a call for police reform and racial justice. 

Although the Black Lives Matter movement has been heavily publicized and garnered  great support, it has been largely unsuccessful in influencing policy until now. Some argue that this is due to the fact that many acts of violence and protest were associated with the movement. On Wednesday, May 25 US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to improve “effective, accountable policing” in the US. While the order is not as strong as legislation passed in Congress would have been, it is definitely a step in the right direction to address police brutality and institutionalized racism in the country. Under the order there will be a revision of federal law enforcement use-of-force policies and the creation of a national registry for police misconduct. 

President Biden’s executive order on police reform is a monumental victory for the Black community and it represents the power of unity in oppressed communities to transform not only social and cultural landscapes but political outlooks as well. As important as it is to savor the success of such civil efforts at this time, it is also necessary to understand that the work is not done. Biden’s executive order did not suddenly eradicate police brutality or racism, rather it has highlighted these issues so that new generations are made aware of the struggle that people of color, particularly Black Americans, face in this country. This awareness of systemic biases in our country is what will allow us to identify and remove racism from our culture and institutions, allowing for the creation of a better America that is truly built for all Americans.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Saira is a Muslim American with a passion for writing, economics, and justice.  With a background as a UC Berkeley graduate with a bachelors in economics allows her to quantitatively analyze critical developments from around the globe as well as their long term impacts on financial systems and social welfare. She is dedicated to reporting in an investigative, honest and compassionate manner to give voice to those who need it most.

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