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The answer to radicalisation is... radicalisation

Christian charity Oasis wants to “radicalise every young person” – but with a positive story of belonging, identity, self-worth and purpose  


Society needs to fundamentally rethink its approach to radicalisation, counter-extremism and counter-terrorism, says the founder of one of the UK’s biggest charities.

Steve Chalke, the founder of youth and community charity Oasis, has argued that strategies and initiatives to ‘prevent’ young people from being exposed to negative and dangerous radicalisation can only go so far. Human beings, he says, need to live a life driven by a narrative that is just as radical as those peddled by Islamic extremists, cult leaders or gang bosses. 

He has launched a book to explain these ideas, alongside a new peacemaking programme for young people named ‘INSPIRE’, which aims to help schools embed these principles into curriculum. He hopes the programme will help youth and other community groups give young people real and practical opportunities to make peace.

“You can’t kill an evil ideology by taking down a person, a thousand people, or even ten thousand people,' explained Mr Chalke, a Baptist minister. 'If we are going to overcome the escalating problem of extremism and terrorism that our world faces, we need a different answer. We need to find a narrative that is radical enough to turn the tide.

'The problem is that our suggested counter-extremism and counter-terrorism solutions just don’t make this connection at the moment. As a result, they fail to get to the heart of things. Instead of tackling the roots – the fundamentals – of the issue, they attempt to deal with the symptoms of its growth. In a phrase, they are just not radical enough.'

He explained that when he became a Christian aged 14, and pledged to one day open a school, a hospital and a hostel, "In a very real sense, I was radicalised, just as Gandhi, Emmeline Pankhurst and Martin Luther-King were all once radicalised.”

As part of the INSPIRE initiative, Oasis, which is also responsible for 47 primary and secondary Academies across the country, will help nurture a range of peacemaking activities over the1000 days leading up to 9 November 2018, the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I.

Mr Chalke said INSPIRE will aim to support young people in finding a positive narrative for their lives; a sense of worth, direction and belonging which will enable them to live fulfilling, peaceful lives immune to the lure of gangs, violence, extremism and terror.

'Rather than simply attempting to build a defence against the threat of radicalisation through anti-radicalisation strategies – such as that prescribed here in the UK by the Government’s ‘Prevent’ initiative for schools and universities – it is vital that we also prioritise the task of articulating a deeper, and more powerful, sense of purpose, identity, meaning and belonging for vulnerable young people in our schools and communities.'

The INSPIRE programme will be creating resources that will be made available to schools and youth groups across the country. Visit http://www.oasisuk.org for more



Baptist Times, 23/02/2016
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