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.
During his fifteen year tenure as chairman up until January 2009 his community work included the establishment of the Brixton Muslim community’s first registered independent Muslim primary school, Iqra. 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.
Brixton Mosque was 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 Baker knew both individuals and, through a series of interviews over the years has highlighted how susceptible young British Muslims have been to extremist propaganda.
He remains at the forefront of many of the challenges facing British Muslims today and is involved in developing and driving initiatives for young Muslims which address various issues relating to radicalisation, extremism and identity among Muslim communities in the West.
A part of his strategic focus is to develop an understanding among young people with dual religious and cultural identities on how to contextualise the practice of faith within western society today. In March 2007 his intervention initiative called ‘Strategy To Reach Empower & Educate Teenagers (STREET) was established This programme was cited by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and British think tank DEMOS, among others at the time, as a model case study. Its effective approach towards youth engagement and intervention in the field of deradicalisation led to it winning the Preventing Violent Extremism Innovation award (17th February 2009) for the most innovative youth programme in 2008.
Abdul Haqq’s work continues to involve him travelling internationally to attend and deliver lectures, seminars and workshops. He has lectured in Terrorism Studies at the University of St. Andrews’ Centre for Studies in Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) and in 2009/10 worked as a Research Fellow for the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC). The focus of his PhD research at Exeter was the phenomenon of violent extremism in the UK amongst Muslim converts, the subject of his paper being: ‘Countering Terrorism in the UK: a Convert Community perspective.’
Conferences, Seminars & Workshops
- Wilton Park Conferences (Key note speaker)
March 2006 and February 2007
- DEMOS Conference
- RCMP conferences and seminars & training workshop with RCMP & CSIS security services, Canada
- Demos, GFF and UK Cabinet Office’s ‘Responding to Radicalisation’ Conference, Oxford
- Welsh Assembly & Police training; The emergence of extremism at a localised level & effectively countering narratives, Cymru, Wales
- ACPOS Counter terrorism training conference, ‘Removing the sting from the extremists’ tail’ Scotland
- Capita Preventing Violent Extremism Conference
April 2009 & September 2010
- International conference on Islamic Education in Public schools, The Hague
- National Security: American Muslims and US Government Relations (Key note speaker), Washington DC
- Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) United Nations (UN) conference, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: The Role of the Internet in Combating Terrorism
- United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee with international, regional and sub-regional organizations on prevention of terrorism, Strasbourg
- ‘Political Transitions, Policing and Counter-Terrorism: power, partnership and community’ ESRC funded international conference, University of Birmingham, UK.
- ‘Can Mothers Stop Terrorism?’ The Paley Center for Media & Women Without Borders, New York
- National Imams’ Consultative Forum, University of Melbourne, National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, Australia
- University of St Andrews Postgraduate workshop: Effective Engagement – Deconstructing the Extremist Narrative, Scotland
- The TAM Group: Effectively Countering Extremism – A comprehensive grassroots approach, Religious Freedom Center, Newseum, Washington DC
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, Regional Training Workshop: Interaction and Partnerships in PVE/CVE – the role of government, civil society and private sector, Astana, Kazakhstan
- GRI/IIPS Defence against Terrorism – Kidnapping & Drugs – The links: Workshops delivered for senior Nigerian Military Personnel, Manchester, UK
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC & OSCE: Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremists (Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters) and their families, Astana, Kazakhstan
- 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