A COMMUNITY was encouraged to talk about terrorism and stand up for what it believes as organisations came together for a ground-breaking conference aimed at combating radicalisation.

Representatives from Slough schools, the police, counter terrorism detectives and the local authority attended the conference at Pinewood Hotel, Slough, yesterday (Thursday).

It was headed by IQRA Slough Islamic Primary School alongside the Slough Faith Partnership. It is thought to be the first conference to combat radicalisation organised by a Muslim school.

Jonathan Russell, Quilliam Foundation political officer, spoke about a 'Call Of Duty generation’ which not only wants to watch TV and play computer games, but be involved in them.

“As a society we have got to do less at the sharp end to try and combat jihadism.

“We have to trust our authorities are very good at pursuing and protecting.

“We must deal with the period where people become engaged with radicalised views before it leads to violence.” He said schools can teach pluralism and citizenship and provide non-extremist views of how to address grievances.

Zafar Ali, chairman of governors at IQRA, also emphasised the importance of not being dismissive of pupils’ views, but getting them to engage in a democratic society to share them.

He spoke about the enemy at the gates, outlining when Muslim hardliners tried to take over IQRA by delivering leaflets at the gates from 2010 to 2012, and at Slough and Eton College in 2003, when he was a governor there. He also surveyed 100 16 to 25- year-olds prior to the conference about radicalisation. Youngsters said they had been given invitations to talks, been told they are not Muslims and approached outside mosques.

Mr Ali said: “If they (radicals) are strong enough to stand up to what they believe in and we are not - then we have lost.” Rashid Ali, counter terrorism practitioner, told the conference: “What binds us together is that we respect people’s right to have their own beliefs.

“That’s what creates our education system.” Superintendent Simon Bowden, Slough local policing area commander, said there is no common profile for people going over to Syria.

He said he was aware of 12 people who had gone from Slough – and 11 had returned.

He added: “If we don’t debate the issues and shy away from them then our prevention work can’t function.

“The community has to talk about this. I want to see more people coming together like this to inform the debate and how people like the police deal with it.” After the keynote speakers, attendees took part in workshops.

The conference was set up after IQRA defeated attempts by extremists, and also follows new guidance from education watchdog Ofsted that encourages schools to be 'proactive in preventing radicalisation’.