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UK’s New Conservative Government to Confront ‘Poisonous Islamist Extremist Ideology’

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David Cameron’s newly-elected Conservative government will include a counter-terrorism bill in this month’s Queen’s Speech designed to confront “head-on the poisonous Islamist extremist ideology.”

The measures were first considered in 2013 following the murder of the British soldier, Fusilier Lee Rigby. The Conservative Party’s coalition colleagues at that time, the Liberal Democrats, blocked the moves out of fear that they went to far and risked harming free speech.

Cameron will introduce the measures at the National Security Council meeting he will chair today. He will warn against the “passively tolerant” approach taken to date stating:

“That means actively promoting certain values. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality. To belong here is to believe in these things. And it means confronting head-on the poisonous Islamist extremist ideology. Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed.”

The package is expected to include the following measures:

  • banning orders for extremist organisations who use hate speech in public places, but whose activities fall short of proscription
  • new Extremism Disruption Orders to restrict those seeking to radicalise young people
  • powers to close premises used by extremists
  • strengthening the powers of the Charity Commission to root out charities who use funds to promote extremism and terrorism
  • immigration restrictions on extremists
  • a strengthened role for Ofcom to take action against channels which broadcast extremist content
  • banning orders for extremist organisations that use hate speech in public places

Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, was sceptical about the effects of the new measures. Although he welcomed “any initiative to keep our country safe” he warned that it “must not give them indirect victory by curtailing our rights, alienating communities and giving grounds to ideologically driven vested interests,” he continued:

“Government proposals, as reported in the media, run the risks of seriously limiting free speech, impeding into media freedom and may further alienate a wide section of our nation. We call on our government to tread carefully and not to rush into bringing in yet more legislation without proper debate, engaging all stakeholders, building consensus and unity between communities. That, in our view, is in the interest of our national security and in keeping with our fine traditions.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Jonathan Russell of the Quilliam Foundation was critical of the proposals from another angle, saying:

“I don’t think it will tackle radicalisation. I don’t think it will change the numbers of people who are attracted to this poisonous ideology, and I don’t think it will attack the ideology itself.”


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