It will prove difficult but we need to try to help

Mutiny Festival 2017 Picture: Paul Windsor

Keep children safe – but beware the nanny state

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It is a subject that is rarely out of the news these days.

And, as shown by the sad news that another jihadi fighter from Portsmouth has been killed in Syria, it is likely to remain there for some time yet.

But the issue of British Muslims heading abroad to fight in Syria is not as simple and straight-forward as some perhaps might paint it.

Why is it that these young Muslims become so driven to fight in a country many of them have never been to or have no connection with?

The rhetoric around the subject comes ready-loaded with tension and terms that inspire strong emotions.

It has become impossible for some to see past the notion that Muslim equals terrorist.

This is patently nonsense of the most dangerous order.

Whipping up fear and suspicion will help no-one.

There needs to be education on both sides of the cultural divide

The News is not pretending for a moment that there are not terrorists within the Muslim community, or pandering to some notion of political correctness.

But they are, thankfully, in the distinct minority.

However, young people are impressionable (these fighters are mostly young) – it’s a fact of life, teenage rebellion is definitely not purely the preserve of western culture. When some of these fighters head out to Syria, they may have romantic notions of being freedom fighters against a corrupt regime.

But when they get there, they find the truth to be far more tangled and thorny, and they find they have signed up to fight a war they neither understand nor want to be a part of. Youthful naivety does not excuse this, but these men are not the same as the hardened radicals who know entirely what they are there for.

If we are to reintegrate those returning from Syria in any way, there needs to be understanding and education.

Yes, they need to be punished if they have broken the law, but saying ‘lock them up for life’ or ‘send them home’ is not realistic or sensible. Working with them in a bid to rehabilitate them may be the only way forward.

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