How mums are tackling online extremism in Portsmouth

MUMS have been enlisted in the fight against online extremism.

Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 12:03 pm
Jan Trust director Sajda Mughal speaks to local women on a Web Guardians course in Portsmouth. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

About 30 took part in training to learn how younger people use the internet and how extremists can contact them online.

Some of those who took part knew families of the six Portsmouth men who travelled to Syria and died fighting with Isil, which included Ifthekar Jaman.

Out of the six, five died and one man who returned was jailed under counter-terrorism laws.

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One mother, who took part, said: ‘As mothers we’re the first line of defence. Like we would guard our house, we should guard our children from bad things online. It’s about mums having conversations with their kids – making them feel safe and able to confide in them.’

Another mum, who was already computer literate, added: ‘I’ve still learned a lot about safeguarding my children. We all need to keep our children safe.’

The course ran for three months at the Madani Academy in Lake Road, which teaches based on the Islamic faith.

It was organised under Prevent, the government’s counter-extremism programme. Portsmouth is considered a higher at risk area by the Home Office.

Teaching on the course included how to use computer devices, internet safety, searching for information, and how to be involved in children’s online activity.

The Web Guardians sessions were run by the Jan Trust charity, which aims to empower women and help them contribute to society.

Charlie Pericleous, Portsmouth City Council’s Prevent co-ordinator, said: ‘This was a really successful course and the women learnt a lot about the need to keep children safe online, just as they would in the outside world.

‘Children and young people spend a lot of time online, and although the internet can be a very positive tool, it’s important parents are aware of the risks and how to safeguard their children.

‘Some of the mums on the course knew the families of the young Portsmouth men who travelled to Syria a few years ago, with tragic results.

‘The course increased their understanding of what material is on the internet, what made those young men become radicalised, and how we can all work together to stop it happening again.’

Jan Trust director Sajda Mughal added: ‘The women were given knowledge and education about using the internet, and improved their ability and confidence to protect their children from online radicalisation.’