Salafi and Islamist Londoners: Stigmatised minority faith communities countering al-Qaida
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- Lambert, R. Crime Law Soc Change (2008) 50: 73. doi:10.1007/s10611-008-9122-8
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The paper highlights the paradoxical position of certain Salafi and Islamist communities in London who have consistently demonstrated skill, courage and commitment in countering al-Qaida propaganda and recruitment activity while simultaneously facing ill-founded criticism from other Muslim communities and secular political lobbyists for creating the conditions that gave rise to the al-Qaida phenomena. In doing so the paper compares the experience of Salafi and Islamist communities living in London during an ongoing terrorist campaign by al-Qaida with Jewish and Irish Catholic communities living in London during earlier terrorist campaigns against the UK’s capital city. In each instance community policing is shown to have a crucial role to play in terms of reassurance for minority faith communities and the prevention of terrorism. However, the intersection between policing and counter-terrorism is shown to produce tensions that may weaken minority community confidence in policing and thereby reduce proactive community support for counter-terrorism measures. At this intersection a London policing initiative is shown to have developed proactive counter-terrorism partnerships with Salafi and Islamist community groups of a pioneering nature. In consequence the same critics who conflate Salafis and Islamists with an urgent terrorist threat to London have accused this policing initiative of appeasing extremism.