Churches to host conference about radicalisation of black youths

Representatives of Britain’s African and Caribbean Christian Communities will meet in London on Wednesday 17 July 2013 at a special convened seminar, to discuss key issues that have arisen following the gruesome killing of army drummer Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death in broad daylight in Woolwich, south east London last month.

The two young men charged with Rigby’s murder, Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, are of Nigerian Christian heritage; and church leaders are concerned about an apparent trend towards radicalisation of former Christians.

Bishop Simon Iheanacho, Chair of Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs (MECA) stated, ‘In the first place, we are interested to find out why a number of young people brought up in our churches are converting to Islam, and what is the nature of the journey some make towards radicalisation, violence and terror.’

Church leaders are responding to concerns that there may be a deliberate attempt by terror groups to recruit vulnerable young men from African and Caribbean communities in prisons and elsewhere.

Dr Eric Brown, Presiding Bishop of the New Testament Church of God said, ‘We need to understand how to help steer young people away from destructive, radicalised lifestyles; as well as to uncover what churches need to do better in areas where we may have failed young people in the past’.

Speakers at the Seminar will include: Richard Reddie, Author, Black Muslims in Britain: Why Are a Growing Number of Young Black People converting to Islam? Dr David Muir, Co-Chair, National Church Leaders Forum, Jennifer Crook, Equality and Diversity Adviser, Methodist Church, Pastor Ade Omooba, Co-Chair, National Church Leaders Forum and Taalib Alexander, Director of Alhambra Educational Initiative.

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