NEW extremism laws will criminalise Muslim “non-violent extremists” suspected of having “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values,” the Prime Minister announced yesterday.
David Cameron detailed a controversial five-year plan as part of the “Prevent” strategy of the Counter-Terrorism Bill to stamp out “poisonous Islamist extremist ideology.”
Organisations thought to use “hate speech,” such as Cage — which campaigns for Guantanamo Bay detainees jailed without charge or trial — would be banned and premises holding the talks, such as universities, could be shut down, a measure which has already been rejected by the National Union of Students and University and College Union.
Broadcast regulator Ofcom — which lists “British values” as personal liberty, democracy and mutual respect for beliefs — would be able to take action against channels showing “extremist content.”
Parents will also be able to cancel their children’s passports if they believe they have travelled to live in war-torn Syria and Iraq.
Mr Cameron’s speech in Birmingham denied connection between “radicalisation” and “historic grievances” carried by Muslims after Britain’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, Stop the War Coalition (STWC) said.
STWC vice-chair Chris Nineham said: “The attacks on the Muslim communities are part of a concerted attempt to ignore a serious discussion about consequences, causes or history.
“In place of rational debate, we are being asked — told, in fact — to believe instead that extremism is all about what Muslims do and don’t do.”
Britain must “deglamourise” Isis so that disenfranchised Muslims do not get sucked into violence, said Mr Cameron — who likened it to “fascist or communist” ideologies.
He claimed that “far-right extremists” would also be scrutinised.
Muslim Council of Britain secretary-general Dr Shuja Shafi said the issue needed to be “debated robustly” in order to “not drive our youth underground for fear of being cast extremist.”
She added: “We worry that these latest suggestions will set new litmus tests which may brand us all as extremists.”
And lobby group Mend Community warned that the Tories’ rhetoric was “demonising” British Muslims who would otherwise want to help.