Do Journal readers support action in Iraq? Our poll asks for your opinions

After the murder of journalist James Foley, we ask what you think the UK's stance should be on Iraq and extremism in the UK

YouTube A video posted on YouTube reputedly showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley.
Islamic State militia (IS) today claimed they had killed Foley, after he was held captive for more than 600 days in Syria.
A video posted on YouTube reputedly showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley. Islamic State militia (IS) today claimed they had killed Foley, after he was held captive for more than 600 days in Syria.

We have watched from afar as country after country in the Middle East has descended into turmoil.

But as the conflict against anti-Government jihadist groups, namely the Islamic State (IS), spreads through Iraq and Syria, fears are growing that the same ideology could hit much closer to home.

It is believed the masked IS fighter who killed American photojournalist James Foley is from the UK, after a video of the murder appeared to reveal his British accent.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond wrote that it is horrifying that the perpetrator “could have been brought up in Britain”, and said it is “an utter betrayal of everything the British people stand for.”

A poll conducted for The Journal by by Other Lines of Enquiry North, using their in-house Panelbase service, found that 74% of people fear the spread of Islamist extremism in Britain, echoing the concerns of Mr Hammond.

And last week, a new plan to tackle British jihadists was unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May. She announced plans to bring in new laws to tackle the threat of extremism on our shores, including “anti-social behaviour orders” for offenders.

She said: “We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly extremist ideology.

“We will be engaged in this struggle for many years, probably decades. We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail.”

But former shadow home secretary David Davis dismissed suggestions the new laws would prevent Britons fighting for the IS.

Instead, he believes the jihadists should be stopped from returning to the UK and be stripped of their citizenship.

Here in the North East, one Muslim youth leader believes integration is vital to defeating the development of extremism, at home and abroad.

Naveed Iqbal, a youth leader in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, said Muslims across the world are taught the importance of integration from childhood which helps tackle extremism.

He said: “In our community preventing extremism starts from the age of seven. We mainly focus on showing them how they can be part of the community and we have different activities showing that.”

And police forces - who work to deliver the Government’s counter terrorism strategy - said they work with a range of organisations to tackle radicalisation in all its forms.

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Our response to those who are identified as being at risk of radicalisation is to prevent them from being drawn into terrorism by working with our partners to ensure they are provided with guidance and support which is specifically tailored to their needs.

“The percentage of people who are prepared to support violent extremism in the United Kingdom is extremely small and is certainly not restricted to only our Muslim communities.

“Prevent is concerned with any ideology regardless of faith or political belief which sanctions the use of violence.”

IS claimed to have killed Mr Foley in retaliation for ongoing US air strikes against its forces.

However, Prime Minister David Cameron has moved quickly to dispel talk of British military involvement, insisting he would not be “putting boots on the ground” or “sending in the army”.

And Journal readers have backed the PM’s stance, with 64% saying they would oppose a decision to send British troops to the Middle East.

Only 21% of people said they would back British troops on the ground in Iraq, with the majority of those aged between 18-24.

Our poll also showed 15% of people were unsure about whether British involvement would help, or simply just add fuel to an already-raging fire.

Kim Sweeney, who lost her son Michael in conflict in Afghanistan, says British soldiers are “too precious to be put out to be shot at” and hopes Mr Cameron sticks by his word. Guardsman Sweeney, 19, from Blyth, died after an explosion in Iraq April 2010.

Tony Blair’s Labour Government was slammed for engaging in a war that ‘should never have been’ and Mrs Sweeney doesn’t want to see that again.

She said: “Far too much blood has already been lost trying to sort out other people’s problems. We are in a crisis of our own, not the same type of crisis, but we have a lot of our own problems.

“We should definitely not be sending troops out there.”

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