County Durham man launches counter-extremism educational programme

A County Durham man has launched The Harmony Initiative programme, which is aimed at educating people about Islam in order to fight extremism.

Ifty Rafiq, 36, says his family have independently funded the programme, which includes educational videos, booklets and lesson plans for schools and businesses, in order to complement the Government’s Prevent strategy.

Watch @krisjepson‘s report here:

During an event hosted by the Jamia Masjid Al-Madina Mosque in Middlesbrough, Mr Rafiq and the Imam, Naveed Saddique, signed a pledge to “eliminate intolerance, promote community cohesion and tackle extremism”.

The Harmony Initiative Credit: ITV News

Mr Rafiq told ITV News the educational videos would help dispel myths about Islam and Muslims. He said these misconceptions cause community tensions, which are then exploited by extremists who target vulnerable young people to radicalise.

Mr Rafiq said he hopes to roll out the programme to institutions across the region and ultimately the UK.

We’re aiming the training programme at professionals. The idea is to empower them. We also want students to take the training. We all have a vested interest in living in a country that’s peaceful, but as the radical elements of the Muslim community might be wanting to plant a seed of hatred in the minds of younger Muslims, we want to plant a seed of love.

– Ifty Rafiq, The Harmony Initiative