Anthony (Abdul Haqq) Baker converted to Islam in 1990 and, after working in the legal profession for ten years, transferred his focus to community leadership and educational management following his appointment, in January 1994, as Chairman of the Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre.
During his fifteen year tenure as chairman, up until January 2009, his community work included the acquisition of the mosque premises, 1 Gresham Road in March 1998 as well as the establishment of the community’s first registered independent Muslim primary school, Iqra Independent, in Brixton. His work in this field led him to embark upon a Masters of Business Administration Degree in Education (MBA [Ed.]) in 1995 to examine the apparent variance in government policy between Muslim and other, more mainstream religious denominations’, education. His final thesis, entitled: ‘The Significance of State Funding for Muslim Education in Britain’ highlighted the results of his research around what was considered to be a very topical issue where research was established to be minimal.
Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Brixton Mosque became the focus of much media attention due to the attendance of individuals lured away into extremism and attempted terrorist actions; Richard Reid (aka the ‘shoe bomber’) and Zacarius Moussaoui (the 20th 9/11 hijacker). Abdul Haqq knew both individuals and, in order to avert the death penalty for Zacarius Moussaoui (thereby removing the latter’s subsequent aim of alleged martyrdom), acted as a character witness for the defence. Through a series of interviews over the years, Abdul Haqq has highlighted the susceptibility of some young British Muslims to extremist propaganda. He is widely considered as a leading authority on processes of violent radicalisation and extremism in the UK and remains at the forefront of many of the challenges facing British Muslims today.
His strategic focus continues to be centred on helping young Muslims understand how best to contextualise and practice their faith as British Muslims within society today. In March 2007 he began an intervention initiative called ‘Strategy To Reach Empower & Educate Teenagers (STREET) which targeted Muslim youth deemed vulnerable. This programme was cited by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and British think tank DEMOS, among others, as a model case study. Its effective approach towards youth engagement and intervention led to it winning a government award for being the most innovative youth programme in 2008. Endorsement for this initiative has also been received by renowned religious figures from Muslim societies.
His work continues to involve him travelling internationally to attend and deliver lectures, seminars and workshops. He worked for two years as a part-time lecturer in Terrorism Studies in the Centre for the Studies in Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St. Andrews (February 2010 – September 2012) and as a Research Fellow for the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC) from November 2009 to August 2010. His PhD research at Exeter (he graduated in 2010) examined whether Muslim converts were more vulnerable or in contrast, more effective in addressing the challenges of violent radicalisation in the UK. This work was subsequently published under the title ‘Extremists in Our Midst: Confronting Terror’ (Palgrave MacMillan, July 2011).
He also acted as Editor in Chief of the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies’ (CPGS) inaugural journal, Foresight: Global Challenges and Strategies’ (August 2013), and served as a de- and counter-radicalisation expert for this non-partisan think-tank. He was an expert defence witness in the case U.S vs Paulin-Ramirez on 8th January 2014, having provided advice surrounding the vulnerability of some converts to radicalisation. In September 2014, he briefly joined Kingston University, UK as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow after introducing a new project – the Youth Engagement & Research Hub (YEAR) – under the Centre for Research on Communities, Identities and Difference (CresCID) within the Department of Criminology and Sociology.
Abdul Haqq continues to consult and advise academics and practitioners internationally on issues of effective youth engagement, understanding processes of violent radicalisation and their root causes, while developing initiatives that can successfully address these issues.
Conferences post 2005:
- Wilton Park Conferences of March 2006 (Key note speaker) and February 2007
- DEMOS Conference (December 2006)
- RCMP conferences and seminars, Canada, 2007,
- Demos, GFF and UK Cabinet Office’s ‘Responding to Radicalisation’ Conference, January 2008, Oxford
- ACPOS Counter terrorism conference, Scotland, February 2009,
- Capita Preventing Violent Extremism Conferences, April 2009 & September 2010
- International conference on Islamic Education in Public schools, The Hague, July 2009
- National Security: American Muslims and US Government Relations (Key note speaker) February 2010, Washington DC
- Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) UN conference January 2011 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: The Role of the Internet in Combating Terrorism
- Special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee with international, regional and subregional organizations on prevention of terrorism,19-21 April 2011, Strasbourg
- The Paley Center for Media and Women Without Borders seminar: ‘Can Mothers Stop Terrorism?’ 8th November 2011, New York
- National Imams’ Consultative Forum, University of Melbourne, National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, Australia, 20th-21st April 2013
- University of St Andrews Postgraduate workshop: Effective Engagement – Deconstructing the Extremist Narrative, 11th March 2014, Scotland.
- Release date 2016: Co-authored chapters with Sadek Hamed et al, ‘Young British Muslims: Between Rhetoric and Real Lives,’ Ashgate, publishing date 2016.
- August 2013: Editor in Chief for ‘Foresight, Global Challenges and Strategies’ Inaugural edition, Centre For Pakistan and Gulf Studies
- 19th August 2013: The Guardian, ‘Islam’s ability to empower is a magnet to black British youths’: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/19/islam-empower-magnet-black-british-youths
- 31st May 2013: The Guardian, ‘Young British Muslim Converts need support to prevent another Woolwich’: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/31/young-muslim-converts-support-prevent-woolwich
- May 2012: Co-authored chapters with Doctors Basia Spalek, Salwa El-Awa and Laura McDonald: Counter-Terrorism: ‘Community-based Approaches to Preventing Terror Crime,’: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Counter-Terrorism-Community-Based-Approaches-Preventing-ebook/dp/B008AG50VK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1370726641&sr=8-3&keywords=basia+spalek+community
- July 2011: ‘Extremists in Our Midst: Confronting Terror,’ Palgrave MacMillan: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=500993 & http://www.amazon.com/Extremists-Our-Midst-Confronting-Challenges/dp/0230296548/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315052039&sr=1-1
- 2010: Co-authored report with Dr. Jonathan Githens-Mazer, Dr. Robert Lambert, Safiyah Cohen-Baker and Zacharias Pieri: ‘Muslim Communities Perspectives on Radicalisation in Leciester, UK’; Centre for Studies in Islamism and Radicalisation (CIR), Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Denmark: http://cir.au.dk/fileadmin/site_files/filer_statskundskab/subsites/cir/pdf-filer/Rapport4_UK_rev_jgmFINAL.pdf
- 2009: Co-authored chapter with Doctors Basia Spalek and Robert Lambert: ‘Minority Muslim Communities and Criminal Justice: Stigmatised UK Faith Identities Post 9/11 and 7/7,’ in: H. Singh Bui (ed) Race and the Criminal Justice System London: Sage: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Race-Criminal-Justice-Hindpal-Singh/dp/1412945550/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1370726858&sr=8-16&keywords=abdul+haqq+baker
- September 2008: ‘A view from the inside’: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, Crime Matters, Issue 73
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