By Dr. Matthew Wilkinson
4 December. Dr. Matthew Wilkinson, Director of Curriculum for Cohesion, and Max Hill QC, Academic Advisor for Curriculum for Cohesion, jointly delivered a pioneering session to encourage c.100 sixth formers to think deeply and critically about terrorism entitled, “What is terrorism? How do we prevent it?”
The talk put the current global concerns with violent Islamist terrorism in deep inter-cultural and historical perspective by informing students about ancient and modern contexts in which different types of terrorism – that is the use or threat of use of violence against civilians to achieve political, religious and ideological aims – have occurred and thrived. Students were encouraged to spot universal characteristics of terrorism and to distinguish between terrorists and political freedom fighters.
Max then went through clear, legal understandings of what does and does not constitute terrorism in UK Law and challenged students to apply these understandings to hypothetical situations.
Matthew ended by explaining how violent Islamist extremism perverts traditional Islamic doctrine and mainstream Muslim accounts of the Divine and human worlds.
The talk was gratefully received by students and the headmaster and his staff and its importance was highlighted by the terrorist knife attack close by in Leytonstone two days afterwards.