Two former extremists were among dozens of students and residents who were at an event yesterday helping people to understand more about radicalisation in the city.
The event, held at the Council House, titled Coventry Counter-Terrorism, was organised by the United Nations Association Coventry Branch. Researchers from Coventry University also supported the conference which featured former radicalised individuals.
Danu Manole, a student at Coventry University, said that it was an opportunity to help people avoid radicalisation.
Shahid Butt, a British Muslim with first-hand experience of racism and radicalisation, said: “Identity is very important and critical thinking can counter the views of extremists. Most people who get drawn into terrorism with organisations like Daesh actually do so out of compassion and feeling a sense of hopelessness, it’s important to engage with them.”
Geoff Thomas, Prevent Co-ordinator at the Council added: “Coventry has such a strong reputation for peace and reconciliation, and a wide network of organisations play an important part in reinforcing the message.
“This means that we are on a relatively firm footing but is really important to be able to organise these types of events where people can be quite open and frank about the issues which affect them.”
The secretary of the UNA Coventry Phil Brown who is also the Chair of the Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, and student volunteers were among the organisers of the event.
Ivan Humble a former regional organiser for the English Defence League from Lowestoft in Suffolk was also a guest speaker at the event.
Cllr Abdul Khan, Deputy Leader for Coventry City Council, said that it was encouraging that so many people had helped organise the event. He said: “We need honest conversations involving people from a wide range of backgrounds. It’s important that we can build on our reputation for positive community relations. I’m pleased that we were able to host the event at the Council House.”
For more details visit www.unacov.uk