Michael Holden and Paul Sandle, Reuters, October 19, 2015
British Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a new strategy on Monday to combat extremism, saying the battle was “perhaps the “defining one of this century”, but his proposals were condemned by Muslims as demonizing their communities and set to fail.
The Counter-Extremism Strategy has been promised by Cameron’s government for months, designed primarily to counter the ideology promoted by Islamic State militants, al Qaeda and other Islamists which the authorities say can lead young Britons onto a path of violence.
“Subversive, well-organized and sophisticated in their methods, Islamist extremists don’t just threaten our security, they jeopardize all that we’ve built together–our successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy,” Cameron wrote on his Facebook website.
Under the wide-ranging proposals, groups deemed extremist by promoting hatred will be banned; places where radicals thrive including mosques could be closed and the regulator Ofcom will get tougher powers to address TV and radio channels airing extremist material.
The new law would also give parents worried that their 16 and 17-year-old children might travel to join Islamic State the power to apply to have their passports removed, while anyone with a conviction for terrorist offences or extremist activity would be banned from working with children.
The plans are designed to target all hate groups, including far-right organizations, but they were met with immediate opposition from Islamic groups who variously described it as “war on Muslims” or containing “McCarthyist” undertones.