13 May 2015

Government crackdown on ‘poisonous ‘ Islamist extremism

David Cameron announces the government will combat “poisonous Islamist extremist ideology” by banning organisations and clamping down on those seeking to radicalise young people.

The prime minister set out his plans at a meeting of the National Security Council, with a counter-terrorism bill to be included in this month’s Queen’s Speech.

He said: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens – as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values, and that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.

“This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation, and bring our country together.”

‘Poisonous Islamist extremist ideology’

David Cameron made it clear that the government intended to confront “head-on the poisonous Islamist extremist ideology”, adding: “Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed.”

The Quilliam Foundation think tank said the plans would not deal with radicalisation, which has led to hundreds of British Muslims travelling to Syria and Iraq, most of them to fight with the extremist group Islamic State.

Spokesman Jonathan Russell told the BBC Today programme: “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.”

Freedom of speech

The Conservatives had wanted to take action in the last parliament, but their Liberal Democrat coalition partners raised objections. The issue of frreedom of speech is a key one for civil liberties organisations, but Home Secretary Theresa May said the government would not infringe this principle.

“This is a difficult area and it is an area where we do have to be careful about how we draft the legislation to make sure that it does cover what we want it to cover, but still enables free speech to take place,” she told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain.

“This isn’t an easy measure to bring in, it is something that has to be looked at very carefully. We are very conscious of the need to still maintain that value of free speech.”

The measures, which will also target neo-Nazi groups, include:

  • banning orders for extremist organisations that use hate speech in public places
  • extremism disruption orders to make it more difficult for young people to be radicalised
  • closing premises used by extremists
  • giving the Charity Commission more power to combat charities that use funds for extremism and terrorism
  • immigration restrictions on extremists
  • a strengthened role for Ofcom to take action against television channels which broadcast extremist content