So what exactly is a Radical, Extremist or Terrorist?

First off, what is Right Wing, Left Wing and Centre? Sometimes when people talk about extremism and terrorism they assume that you understand what they mean by the political terms Right-Wing and Left-Wing. So…Here’s a quick recap.

If you imagine a long line, stretched horizontally infront of you, on your right you’d have the Extreme Right Wing. It is on the fringes of our normal society (the Centre) and can be a good way to describe views and actions. Right Wing can be defined with Fascism and Authoritarianism. Fascists believe in in a strong central authority without opposition (no voting, only one party). They believe that violence should be used to support authority. They also believe that there is one identity for a country- either you support and mirror that identity or you are not a part of the country. Fascists in Britain, for example, would have one version of what it means to be BRITISH. They wouldn’t support multi-culturalism or celebrate the diversity that exist in the UK. They wouldn’t support, for example, that different identities in Scotland, Wales, N Ireland and England make Britain’s identity diverse. They would want everyone to be focused on their ONE idea of what it means to be British. The BNP are often targeted by anti-fascist campaigners.

The Left Wing can be described with Communism and perhaps Socialism. Communist philosophy believes no one person should control the resources and production of a country. Instead of one person owning a forest and timber yard, paying workers wages and making profit everyone would control everything together. Communism is about a version of equality where one person will not own more than another and where everyone makes decisions together. However in practice many Communist states saw one Party having power and control over the population and everyone did NOT have an equal say in decisions.

There are different types of extremism, for example religious extremism or national extremism, and sometimes it is necessary to understand what right-wing/left-wing means. We will be looking a right-wing extremism later in the Blog.

OK, so what are the meanings of Radical, Extremist and Terrorist? There are some basic definitions below:

RADICAL: being radical in itself isn’t a bad thing. It may mean you want to see big changes to society and may think there are things wrong with how things are now. Being radical can mean positive changes, like the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s but can also sometimes be the beginning of behaviour that leans towards extremism and terrorism.

EXTREMISM: term for groups and individuals who hold ideas that fall outside of normal society. Extremist groups can be violent towards mainstream society and cut themselves off from mainstream life. Extremism often refers to a threat against mainstream society and may suggest views which would cause problems for certain groups and communities. All countries and religions can have extremist groups.

TERRORIST: There is no set definition for terrorism, which can make laws and methods for dealing with it problematic. It is commonly understood as violence from groups with political, religious or ideological aims. Terrorism tries to bring about political change with violence. Peacemaker understands terrorism to be violent against the government and government policy. Violent Extremism involves violence against other groups in society.

What do you think? Why not leave a comment below…..

Emily (15): We never really learn about politics in school. PSHE lessons tell you the basics but today we really learnt the differences between parties and about extremism and terrorism. I think that in modern society it is so important to learn about politics and now that we have learnt more about terrorism and extremism it is easier to see why these are so flawed. There is still so much racism and discrimination in modern society and I think that the more young people are taught about terrorism the less there will be, as young people will better understand why things should be solved rationally and why people shouldn’t need to use violence to express their views.

Lucy (15): Peacemaker made it so straight forward. I am normally so confused by politics and terrorism and all that sort of thing but today i learned about it all and it was easy. I now know what they are and I wasnt confused. We saw pictures and listened to info about them and it stuck!

Lucy (17) I found the session easier to deliver and the group seemed to enjoy it more and all learnt something, i feel i learnt more about politics aswell.


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Diversity and Myths in Oldham and beyond…

Today we began our module on Prejudice and Equality by thinking about diversity in the UK. Diversity refers to the differences in lifestyles and backgrounds within society. It can refer to difference in age, genders, religions, ethnicity, sexual preferneces or political beliefs.

Often it is used to talk about cultural diversity in the UK and we tried to unpick some stereotypes about this during the session. Firstly, we did a myth busting quiz which revealed just how diverse and multi-cultural the UK has been for some time. For example did you know that….

…Fish and chips were bought to the UK by a Jewish refugee in the mid 19th Century?

….The British Royal family are German descendants and that from 1714 until the 1900’s every British monarch took a German spouse. They only changed their German last name (Saxe-Couburg-Gotha) after WW1, when anti-German feeling grew- so they changed it to a more English sounding Windsor?

…The first Muslims arrived in the UK around 300 years ago? Many were sailors recruited to the East India Company

…..Migrant workers from all over the world helped build the NHS? From as early as 1940 the NHS dealt with sever staff shortages by importing nurses and doctors from abroad

…..India alone provided 1.3 million soldiers who fought for the UK in WW2. They were fighting for their ‘motherland’ and were told and they were considered as British subjects?

…..Britain recruited for labourers from abroad to try and rebuild Britain after World War 2?

We also did some work on number crunching and looked at figures from to uncover just how diverse the UK is. Did you know that…

92.1% of the UK population are white British, meaning that only 8% belong to other ethnic groups. Only 4% of the population are Asian British and only 2% are Black British. It was also interesting to see the difference in diversity from place to place. The Highlands of Scotland, for example, are not only not very populated but are not very diverse. The most exciting place in terms of diversity is London, with the West Midlands and North West falling in behind.

Yet only 12 out of about 600 MPs are not white British, meaning that people with a different heritage are severely under represented in our government. Maybe its time for some of our young people to begin their campaigns?

Finally we did a gameshow and tried to guess the number of British citizens living abroad. Have a go….How many live in…


Brazil…………………….11000            Sri Lanka…………..4,400

S Africa…………………..212,000       Israel…………………44,000

Saudi Arabia……………55,000          India………………..32,000

Australia………………..1.3 million     Spain……………761,000

Ryan Peer Educator (17): IT’S A NEW MODULE! Which means a new peer educator is coming to join me, Laxmi and Rucksana! It’s a sad goodbye to Halima, but only for now, and it’s a big hello to Corinne! Unfortunately she couldn’t make the first session because she was stuck in Austria (oh, how unlucky) but we’re excited for her joining us soon. So, the new module is all about equality and refugees and immigration which is a very intensive subject but I’m expecting great thing from the kids. We looked at the stereotypes to introduce the kids to the module and got them to make a summary of themselves involving likes/dislikes/family/background/dreams and then stereotyped them so they could realise that just because someone looks the way they do or likes the things they do doesn’t mean to say that they are anything like other people who look or like the same things. We then moved onto ethnicity, we explained to them the unclear definition that it is their heritage but it can get confusing. Following that, the kids estimated the percentage of different ethnicities there were within the UK and were shocked to find that so little of the population was made up from different ethnicities (7.9%!). I was impressed at how well the kids handled a subject that can get very tricky and they acted maturely when addressing stereotypes.

Deven (13): In todays session, we learned about diversity, equality and ethnicity in oldham and the UK. We did different activities and i learned a lot about the history of how ethnic minorities came to the UK. I and the other people in the session learned about the percentages of different ethnic minorities compared to the percentage of white british. I had already heard of the percentages of ethnic minorities in the UK, but i had forgot. I found this session really interesting and very knowledgeable

Jamil (13):  Today i found out that there was less than i thought there was in asian culture in britain all together there is indian culture only;1.8 pakistan only;1.3 bangladesh only;0.5 and any other asians only 0.4 when i only thought there were all over 10.0 so there’s only in 1.8 the highest and 0.3 the lowest!

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Peacemaker, Belgium and the EU Parliament

Peacemaker has just returned from a trip to Brussels, where we met Oldham’s representative in the EU Parliament, Chris Davies MEP. A group of board members, Peacemaker staff and Peer Educators took a coach over to Brussels to expore the city and learn some more about how the main legislative power for Europe functions.

Key facts about the Europe and the EU Parliament:

  1. There are currently 27 countries in the EU
  2. EU Parliament has 736 MEPs
  3. Is the 2nd largest democratic electorate in theWorld (India is number 1)
  4. It has 375 million eligible voters
  5. There are 23 official language and the parliament provides interpreters for all 23

Can you spot Chris Davies MEP?

But what does it do?

The EU Parliament, along with the Council of Europe, draws up laws for all member states, which means that laws decided in Europe affect us in Britain.

Ofcourse Belgium also means chocolate and we spent alot of time in various chocolatiers. I for one came back heavier than I left. We also visited the beautiful Bruge, ambling along the river into the picturesque town centre. Peacemaker can now add Brussels to  its list of places we’ve been with young people on educational visits -New York, Venezuela, Cuba and Belfast. I for one would like to see this list get longer and longer.

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Anti-War Protests- The UK and their Protests Against Iraq

Since 2002 there have been protests all over the world against the Iraq War and it is estimated that between January and April 2003 (just before the war started) around 36 million people worldwide protested against it. In Europe, the largest demonsration was in Rome, with 3 million people- this has even made it into the Guiness Book of World Records.

Yet Britain was not short of demonstrators either. On the 15th of Feb, an international day of protests, Police estimated that 750,000 people marched in London against the war. Organisers say the number was more like 2 million. On that same day, simultaneous protests were held in Belfast and Glasgow.

But why were President George W Bush and Tony Blair so keen to invade Iraq? They said Saddam Hussain was hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction and that they didn’t trust UN Inspections that said they weren’t there. They also saw Sadddam Hussain as a threat to the globe and thought he had links to terrorism and Al’ Qaeda. But people protesting against the war said differently. They said war should be a last resort, not Plan A. They argued that Iraq was already weak from the first Gulf War (stared by George Bush’s dad some years before) and from sanctions that had been placed on the country. They also thought that the USA and Uk were more interested in Iraq’s oil fields than anything else and that the Iraq war was a humanitarian disaster waiting to happen (chaos and destruction for normal people in Iraq).

So what did protesting achieve? Iraq was still invaded but protesting against the war has continued to keep awareness up and has continued to criticise Bush and Blair. Protest also lead to a public enquiry being held last year and, you never know, it may stop this from happening again.

Lucy (17) Peer Educator: I always knew there was a war in iraq and kind of vaguely knew what it was about and obviously knew it was bad and lots of innocent people were getting hurt, but i never really knew exactly why it was happening. So in the session today i learnt that no other countries except britain and the usa wanted to invade iraq, which shows what a stupid idea it was and they wanted to invade because they thought iraq had WMD’s so when they found that they didnt why didnt the government withdraw the troops?? it makes me really angry that a war that didnt even need to happen is still going on after 8 years and the violence has needlessly ruined peoples lives there are people living with no family and/or serious injuries in terrible conditions in fear that their world will be uprooted again. i really think george bush and tony blair had considered these people before they went messing up a country!!!

Mariam (14): I think todays session was very useful, i think that everything we have learnt has made us all realize how difficult it really is around the world, and the wars between different countries, and how pathetic it is, and what its about, over nothing! it just shows how life really is in the outside world. if only  people could have warmer hearts.. dont know what else to write.. so lucy what do you think?

Rema (14): I really enjoyed today, it made me think about the different stuff happening around the world, stuff that i never knew. the stories that we read made me very emotional and made me think IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING! how cold can this world get?

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Violence- Is this the way forward?

Today we thought about whether or not violence was ever a good way to deal with problems- is it justfied? Is it sometimes necessary? We learnt about 2 key figures- all who advocate that to act in violence, even in self-defence, only triggers more violence. They believe that it is never a way to peace.

The first person we learnt about is the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, who was the spiritual and political leader of Tibet before their occupation by China in 1950. The Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet after 9 years of brutal rule by the Chinese and became one of 150,000 other Tibetans who had to walk a dangerous and treacherous route across the Himalayas to seek sanctuary and safety in neighbouring Nepal and India. Despite all he and his country has been through, the Dalai Lama has always remained confident that to retaliate with violence would only bring more sorrow and harm to his people and country. He states that “Violence will only increase the cycle of violence” and thinks that “All forms of violence, especially war, are totally unacceptable as means to settle disputes between and among nations, groups and persons”. This does not just mean you accept the wrongs people do to you, it means you still deal with a problem, but in a way that will not harm others.


George W and the Dalai Lama- 2 different approaches to War


Another famous advocate of nonviolence is Mahatma Gandhi, who was the spiritual and political leader of the Indian Independence Movement from 1915-1945. He helped bring an end to British rule in India and followed his philosophy of nonviolence- ‘ahimsa’.

Gandhi used peaceful acts of civil disobedience, rather than violence, to resist British rule and organised protests and nationwide campaigns. His birthday is now a national holiday in India and is known worldwide as the International Day of Peace. He stated “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary: the evil is permanent” and said the famous quote “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.

Haleama (12): I think violence is never the answer. In some cases people might feel the need to be violent but this is just a was to get out all their anger. The best way to resolve a problem is to talk about the problem with any involved even if only involved in it the slightest bit, its still better to have everyone know its all over and that they can all forgive and forget.

Junaid (14): I think that we should not fight back if someone offends us because it just causes more violence. I think you should just ignore whoever is causing a problem and soon they will hopefully stop because they’ll get fed up.

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Women’s Rights…..then and now (come on we want them)

There was a time in the UK when women were without basic rights and lacked the power to make decisions about their own lives. They weren’t educated to the same standard as guys, they weren’t allowed to work- they weren’t even allowed to own or inherit property…..everything belonged to their husband or family. There were no women in the police or government- women weren’t even allowed to vote.

Women have campaigned long and hard to improve things and make sure that women are never treated as inferior to men or never discriminated against just because they are female. Nowadays, equality law makes it illegal to treat someone badly because of their sex- you can’t  decide not to employ someone because they’re a woman.

One famous campaigning group of women was The Suffragettes who started in 1867 and campaigned for a woman’s right to vote. Emily Pankhurst , one of the most famous suffragettes, was born in Manchester and another famous Suffragette, Annie Kenney, was born in Springhead, Oldham. They campaigned with civil disobedience and  were famously put in jail interrupting a political rally of Winston Churchill by shouting about a woman’s right to vote. The suffragettes organised protests, marched on Hyde Park, went on hunger strike when in jail and constantly struggled for a women’s right to have a say in how her country is run.

Women got the vote in 1918 and continued to campaign for increased rights. Since then women have become a political force of their own and continue to stand up for what they believe in. However, should the campaigning stop? Read these facts and decide for yourself:

The average hourly earnings for women working full-time are 18% lower than mens

1.3 billion people in the World live in absolute poverty- 70% of them are women

150 million children worldwide don’t go to school- 90 million of these are girls

Women hold under 5% of the top positions in international organisations like the UN

Priya (15): I feel quite strongly about equality between gender. The fact that women couldn’t vote before is appalling! They had no freedom and their lives were ruled by men, they made no decision for themselves, and had to live the life their husbands or fathers wanted them to live. Although it has changed a lot now, and definitely for the better, women and men are still not treated equally. Women doing the same jobs as men get paid less, which is totally unfair and should be changed!

Syeda (15): I personally think there should be no diffrence between men and women what ever happens. Years before there were rights for the women, things were really unfair and that strongly makes me feel sad for the women from those years. The facts were the husband owned the women’s property once she married to him , i thought then that the women should be able to own the mens property. I as a girl think now think that the women  have the ability to make things fair for both genders.

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Black Civil Rights….America in the 1950’s

The Black Civil Rights Movement (CRM) campaigned to end Racism and Inequality for black people between 1955 and 1968. Before the CRM many towns and cities in America were segregated- black people could not use the same building entrance as a white person, eat in the same cafe, sit in the same taxi or use the same drinking fountain. Not only that, the police, judges and juries were all white and the laws supported these inequalities.

The CRM challenged not only the laws but people’s attitudes- attitudes that saw black people being treated as inferior citizens because of the colour of their skin. People like Martin Luther King Jr used non-violent civil disobedience to challenge laws that enforced segregation. People sat at lunch counters they weren’t meant to, travelled on buses that were for white people and ignored segregation rules. Even music, for example from the record company Motown Records, played a role by promoting black musicians and getting them in the public eye.

Supported by the then President, John F Kennedy, the movement grew and laws began to change. By 1963 racial segregation was illegal and discrimination on the grounds of race were illegal. But attitudes take longer to change- the first black person to attend the University of Mississippi was met by a crown of white students who wouldn’t let him in-the president had to send troops the next day. The CRM brought about amazing changes, reminds us how unequal things have been and  helps us to understand where some racist ideas may come from today.

Ryan (16) Peer Educator: This week we focused on the Black Civil Rights Movement. We looked at Rosa Parks, the lady who refused to move from her seat on the bus for a white person. We also learnt about Martin Luther King Jnr, one of the key figures in the movement. The kids were slightly unfocused but did have some good points and knew more about the subject than we thought. When they made posters they were very creative and utilized the information well.

Siofra (20) Manchester University Student: Thoroughly enjoyed the session. The powerpoint was informative and well presented. Everybody worked well within the group during the activities and it was evident that  the young people were interested in the issues being discussed. Overall, I learnt a lot of facts on the Black Civil Rights Movement and found the session very useful.

Emma (19) Manchester University Student: As I was not fully aware of what exactly the Black Civil Rights Movement was about I found this session very informative and the powerpoint that was used was clear and easy to understand. Throughout the session we played different activities which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. By the end of the session I was a lot clearer on the Black Civil Rights Movement and what and who it involved.

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