Abdul Haqq Baker PhD

Abdul Haqq 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.’