Church seminar to address radicalisation of British African and Caribbean youths

The radicalisation of British African and Caribbean youths will be the subject of a seminar taking place in London next Wednesday.

The seminar will explore why young people being brought up in African and Caribbean churches are converting to Islam and embracing radical ideology

The seminar is being convened in response to the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, whose funeral is taking place today.

Rigby was killed as he walked back to his barracks in Woolwich on May 22. The two men charged with his murder are Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, both converts to Islam of Nigerian Christian heritage.

Members of the African and Caribbean Christian communities in Britain fear a trend towards the radicalisation of former Christians and warn that terror groups are deliberately seeking to recruit vulnerable young men in prisons and elsewhere.

They see as evidence of this the cases of 'shoe bomber' Richard Reid, who tried to blow up an American Airlines plane in 2002, Umar Islam - born Brian Young - found guilty of a suicide bombing attempt on a trans-Atlantic flight in 2006, 7/7 suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay, and Abdul Khaliq - formerly Kibley Da Costa - who was jailed in 2007 for helping to run terror training camps in New Forest and Berkshire.

All are Muslim converts of African or Caribbean heritage who were radicalised.

"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," said Bishop Simon Iheanacho, Chair of Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs (MECA).

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 include Dr David Muir and Pastor Ade Omooba, both co-chairs of the National Church Leaders Forum, and Jennifer Crook, Equality and Diversity Adviser to the Methodist Church.