London Muslims gather for festival aimed at tackling youth extremism

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SHAFAQNA – Hundreds of Muslims from across London are preparing for a festival aimed developing new ways of diverting young Britons away from extremism.

The Muslim Youth Festival will be the first event of its kind in the capital that draws together young people, police, teachers, faith leaders and role models to looking at what it means to be a young British Muslim in the UK today.

The event comes as growing numbers of Britons are travelling to Syria to fight with the terror group ISIS

Among them are four schoolgirls from Bethnal Green, east London who are believed to have secretly travelled to the war-ravaged country after being groomed online to become jihadi brides.

Sharmeena Begum, Shamima Begum, and Amira Abase, all 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, are understood to be in the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

The event is the brainchild of the Muslim Youth Focus Group which wanted to create a platform for young Muslims to voice their concerns on issues such as radicalisation, Islamophobia, IS and Syria.

Muslim role models will speak at the event, including music star Naughty Boy, whose real name is Shahid Khan and has been working with Zayn Malik who recently announced he was leaving One Direction.

YouTube star Humza Arshad – creator of the series ‘Diary of Badman’ – will also appear.

Sergeant Javaria Saeed of the Met’s Community Engagement Team, said: “In a world dominated by news and events of extremism often the feelings of young people, who are perhaps most affected, become overlooked.

“This festival aims to change this by giving young people a voice to express themselves and propose ideas and solutions that will make a difference for all communities.”

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