Bradford imam says teenagers are joining drugs gangs because of 'community failings'

A Bradford imam said teenagers are being drawn into a “gangster lifestyle” because of “failings within our community”.

Imam Muhammed Asim Hussain

Imam Muhammed Asim Hussain is calling on parents, teachers, religious leaders and other members of the community to work together to keep young men on the right track and prevent them from joining violent drug gangs.

“There’s a growing number of young people who are inspired and look up to this so-called gangster lifestyle,” he said.

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“Young people get sucked into this unfortunately and someone needs to speak out and sort of guide them, because I think they are just lost and they find a sense of belonging on the streets.

“If they're struggling to make money and they can't get a job or they've not really got an education, then they've not really succeeded, according to the status quo.

“They then look for ways to keep themselves occupied and find that the quick way is selling drugs on the streets.”

After a young man was stabbed to death, the imam decided to speak out by delivering a speech outside Al-Hikam Institute in Bradford on April 25.

Dozens of young Muslim men from the north, who are currently observing Ramadan, were in attendance and the speech has been watched more than 68,000 times online.

Mr Hussain is concerned about young men in Bradford becoming involved with gangs, but said it is also an issue in many other parts of the country.

“There are people within our communities who are exploiting and grooming young people to do their dirty work, to run around and to sell drugs,” he said.

“When we look at why that happens then there's a failing on our part.

“When I say failing, I'm talking about failings within our schools, failings within our communities, within our homes and within our religious settings.

“We don't seem to engage them well enough to stop them from getting groomed and exploited by these gangs.”

He added: “I just don’t think we give them enough time and attention as we should.

“There’s so much work to be done, but we need to really come together as a community.”

Mr Hussain is planning to open a new youth centre in Bradford, called The Faith Cave Club, where he will look to work with young men to keep them off the streets.

West Yorkshire Police say all children, regardless of their background or where they live, are vulnerable to exploitation by criminal groups and they can be coerced into carrying or selling drugs and committing violent acts.

It says parents should seek help if they notice their child seems distant, starts missing school, makes frequent trips to places they wouldn't normally go or comes home with large amounts of cash or other expensive items such as designer clothes.