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:

Deradicalisation programme is demonising Muslims

Published by IHRC on 8th October 2015
Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) finds gravely disturbing today's revelations that referrals to a deradicalisation programme have risen exponentially since reporting people of suspected extremism became an official requirement for public bodies on July 1 this year.
The figures show that there were more referrals between June and August this year than for the whole of 2012/13 – the first year the scheme was rolled out across England and Wales. The number is also more than double the level of referrals recorded in the first three months of 2014/15. Approximately 40% of the referrals were of people under the age of 18.
Moreover during the same period, of the 796 individuals reported to the Channel programme for possible intervention, only about a fifth have required intervention in the form of deradicalisation sessions.
The figures suggest that the government dragnet cast over the Muslim community by the Islamophobic 'PREVENT' anti-extremism programme is having the effect of demonising and stigmatising innocent individuals and creating a pall of fear that prevents them from fully engaging in everyday life.
What is worrying is that these figures have been compiled over a period when schools and educational institutions are closed for the summer break. The likelihood is that referrals are only going to increase now they have reopened.
IHRC is opposed in principle to the whole PREVENT programme. It rests on racist and Islamophobic assumptions. By demonising Islam as innately violent the programme has contributed to the legitimisation of institutional discrimination against Muslims. Although the programme is presented as targeting all extremism including that of the far right in practice it is almost exclusively applied to Muslims.
Many Muslims have been caught up by PREVENT for nothing other than expressing conservative religious opinions or views that are critical of the government's policies in Muslim countries. Deradicalisation programmes are in themselves designed to disabuse people of these views and amount to political and social indoctrination. Moreover, the secretive nature of the referral process which is usually informed by Islamophobic prejudices means that there is rarely a paper trail by which officials can be held accountable.
In a case that arose last month, a 14-year-old Muslim schoolboy was questioned about ISIS after a classroom discussion about environmental activism. His parents are taking legal action after the boy said he was left "scared and nervous" by his experience with school officials in north London, and was left reluctant to join in class discussions for fear of being suspected of extremism. IHRC has been informed of a case in which a schoolboy was referred by teachers for objecting to a school concert on the grounds that he thought it was unIslamic.
IHRC is also alarmed by statements made yesterday by PM David Cameron that he intends to bring private madrasas under state scrutiny because he believes the allegedly conservative views they teach are helping fuel extremism. His views are based on the now officially accepted conveyor belt theory of terrorism in which illiberal Islamic education is the first step of a journey towards violent extremism. According to this view every Muslim is a potential terrorist who requires state intervention to keep them clear of extremism.
IHRC's head of advocacy Abed Choudhury said: "It is highly ironic that a programme that the government parades as vital for social cohesion is in fact having a divisive effect by obliging people to report others, mostly on the basis of their own prejudices. Subjecting Muslims to deradicalisation programmes for holding alternative views smacks of indoctrination meted out to dissidents by authoritarian regimes both present and past."