Cases of teenage girls running – or trying to run – away to Syria to become ‘Jihadi brides are worrying.
The national news reports such stories on a sufficiently regular basis to show that it is a phenomenon that needs to be addressed – and as a city that has, sadly, seen young men die in fighting, it makes sense that authorities in Portsmouth need to be alert too.
So what, then, are we to make of the public spat between police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes and Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones?
He says the council is not doing enough in general against extremism, and then says there are documented cases of primary school-age children expressing wishes to become Jihadi brides.
She says the council is doing more than enough, that he has issued ‘false information’ and then writes to the Home Secretary to complain.
He says, she says...
What we need to see is evidence, and evidence made public. We assume Mr Hayes is not lying, but how many young children have said this? Is it several, or just an isolated case? Is it just playground bravado? Or is there a deeper, more sinister problem? If there is, then platitudes about how people are ‘working exceptionally hard’ matter not a fig.
Due to events of the last few years both nationally and internationally, tensions run high when the subject of jihad come up. Sensible people realise that the actions of a minority should not tarnish the reputation of the law-abiding majority, but the sad fact remains that there is still prejudice surrounding this. Wars of words such as these do not help.
We need to know the facts surrounding these comments. Otherwise, in battles of personality, we end up with police and council representatives standing up for their own organisations, rather than those they govern. If these comments are just scaremongering, then they are disgraceful.
But if they are true, the public should know – regardless of how embarrassing it may be for the authorities. We await details.