TERRORISM, it seems, is growing in British classrooms. The UK Government has, for the first time, published detailed figures about the Prevent programme, initiated in 2003, which aims to stop people being drawn into terrorism.

Prevent is a national strategy, although Home Office figures released last week concentrated on England and Wales. The statistics showed there were 7631 referrals in 2015/16, a quarter of which involved under-15s. However, only 381 of those referred required specialist help.

Chief Constable Simon Cole, the national policing lead for Prevent, said the number of referrals showed that “trust and support is growing” for the programme.

But there has been concern surrounding the programme.

In one case, a nine-year-old boy is said to have been helped by Prevent after he stood up in class and said he supported so-called Islamic state.

Is there really a surge in school children being drawn into terrorism? There is no doubt that a problem exists within our communities and much of this may have to do with culture differences and the isolation of families also due to religious differences.

As pointed out by Dame Louise Casey some communities are involved in harmful religious practices, but this is due to a perverted understanding and practise of Islam rather than the strict application of the Quran.

The practising of Sharia law, with its roots in Wahabism, as taught in the mosques and madrassas all over the UK has created a distorted religion masquerading as Islam.

This rejects the inclusive and pluralistic ethos of the Quran, and promotes a separatist and supremacist mindset within the community, the most visible manifestation of which is the niqab and burka.

To overcome these serious and grave issues the Government should be targeting young children not with an anti-terror programme but with an education imitative aimed at children, teachers and others active in the education system.

One in five school children does not speak English as a first language and many of these children have difficulty speaking English. For this reason, a driving factor should be to ensure that all people from other countries learn to speak English. This will at least help to dismantle isolationism and separatism.

People from all communities must be also encouraged to get involved in the ordinary life of Britain. This can be through sport and other cultural activities to bring the disparate sectors of society together but requires the application of imagination to the problem so that we can come up with effective solutions.

Furthermore, we must accept it is not racist to say that multiculturalism is a failure. In fact, it is racist to say that some immigrants, because of their origins, are exempt from the common duty of integration.

It is unreasonable to defend the view that all cultures are equal, especially when some endorse misogyny, genital mutilation, honour killings and so forth.

Whatever their religion or origin, they cannot ignore British values of equality, respect, commitment, tolerance and compassion – the very values that the Quran endorses.

It should be pointed out that the idea of a khilafat or an Islamic State is not in the Quran, neither is a sultanate or a republic.

Muslim leaders after Muhammad created their political structures based on the principles of Permanent Values and Absolute Laws; values, rights, obligations, justice and truth as defined in the Quran. Therefore the ideal should be NOT an Islamic State but the state of Islam, ie a state of harmony: peace and security.

Radicalisation is also a term that is often wrongly applied to Islam. It is true that concepts in the Quran are radical, but only in the sense that they instruct believers to make sweeping and profound changes. However, these challenges are there to improve mankind’s situation and move it forward to a better future.

The Quran decrees friendship with those of differing beliefs (Verse 60:8) and says to respond to enemies in such a way that they become your friends. (Verse 41:34). Other verses give freedom of belief, instruct believers not to berate other beliefs, treat people amicably and to maintain goodwill and tolerance. The Quran is replete with verses that inculcate believers to harmonise society.

The Quran does not sanction gratuitous violence and explicitly forbids the kind of aggression that we have seen practised by so-called Islamic State.

Aggressors are viewed with contempt in the Quran and it shows, by historical example, how Jews, Christians, Muslims and people from other communities – all termed as believers – lived in Muhammad’s time.

They ate the same food, married into each others’ families and had the same values. It was possible then and why should it not be possible now?

Paigham Mustafa, who lives in Glasgow, has been researching and studying the Quran since 1988 and spent more than two years writing his book The Quran: God’s Message To Mankind, published in 2016, and available from Amazon