Discrimination and marginalization faced by Muslims in the UK and the country's foreign policy against the Middle East are among the reasons why Muslim British citizens cross into Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), commentators have said. Ahmed Versi, the editor of UK-based The Muslim News, said there were several reasons why British citizens wanted to join ISIS. He said constant streams of images and photos showing the killing of people by the Syrian government could have affected people's decision to go to the country, while crossing into Syria to fight against the Syrian government was not illegal at the beginning of Syrian crisis - and the British government had supported opponents to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. "Many of the young leaving the country criticize the (British) government, which has no active foreign policy," Versi told Anadolu Agency, adding that such a stance could have prompted those leaving to join the fight in Syria or Iraq. Recalling Israel bombing in Gaza in last summer which killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, Versi said many youths believed the British government had remained silent about the killing of Muslims and not shown concern. Versi said many of those who left the UK did not believe media reports relating to Daesh. He added that "Many young people have lost confidence in the media."
He also said Islamophobia in Britain, discrimination and the way the media portrayed them were other reasons why young Muslims felt disaffected or angry. "Even the government challenges the loyalty of Muslims, asking whether they are British enough, and they do not feel a part of British society," said Versi. Muslims must be viewed as part of British society and not within the framework of security and terrorism, he said.
The British government estimates up to 600 people have left Britain to go to Syria and Iraq. More than 200 people were arrested last year on terrorism charges, according to British police. Britain's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott wrote in an article in the UK newspaper The Mirror on March 21 that it was time for Britain to face the realities about British citizens who joined the ISIS. He added that "We have played a huge part in making them want to leave Britain and take up arms in a foreign land."
Prescott said he could also have been radicalized if he had been a young Muslim watching the Gaza killings, the displacement of millions of Syrians and the killing of innocent families on suspicion of being terrorists. Touching on the three British male teenagers who were arrested in Turkey and handed to the United Kingdom, Prescott said that, instead of accusing or judging them, they must be asked why they had felt motivated to go to the Middle East, which he said contains "dangerous conflict".
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