Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Muslim Groups say ‘Police State’ Powers will make Terror Problem Worse

Mainstream Muslim groups [1] are warning that the draconian new powers targeting the Muslim community, which the government is seeking through the Extremism Bill, will be counter-productive in the fight against ISIS recruiters and other extremists.
  • The Extremism bill puts in place the architecture of a Police State, giving government ministers sweeping powers to restrict the rights and freedoms of citizens without due process and the right to a fair trial. With the vague definition of extremism being employed there is a real danger that these powers could be used to clamp down on legitimate political dissent.

  • The new proposals continue the government’s approach of treating the whole Muslim community as potential terrorists, from 3 year-olds in nurseries through to political activists who oppose the government’s foreign policy.[2] This will only fuel alienation, driving some vulnerable young Muslims toward extremism.

  • The government’s focus is almost entirely on extremism within the Muslim community, ignoring far-right extremism and violence despite the acts of terror committed by racist and Islamophobic extremists (for example the murder of a Muslim grandfather in Birmingham, nail bombs and arson attacks on mosques and Islamic centres, a machete attack in a supermarket on a Sikh man mistaken for a Muslim…)[3].

  • These proposals are not based on empirical evidence about the factors causing terrorism, but instead rely on a refuted ‘conveyor belt’ theory of radicalisation promoted by neo-conservative think-tanks which falsely sees both religious conservatism and legitimate political grievances as leading almost inevitably toward violence.[4]

  • An effective approach to countering violent extremism must acknowledge the proven link between foreign policy and terrorism, and empower young Muslims to channel their legitimate anger into democratic activism and engagement.

  • Rather than wasting tax-payers money on groups such as ‘Inspire’ which have no credibility within the Muslim community the government should enter into dialogue with those Muslim groups who are already doing effective grassroots work against Isis and other extremists. The government’s approach to the mainstream Muslim community must change from one of exclusion to engagement.

[1] In addition to the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK other mainstream groups such as Muslim Council of Britain and Islamic Human Rights Commission have raised similar concerns: