The government has just announced its plans for another reboot of so-called ‘counter-extremism’ policies that have failed under previous administrations.
We have little doubt that their latest version – these latest measures coupled with the Prevent related measures in the CTS Act 2015 – will also fail, despite the threat to be more draconian because the policy is fundamentally flawed, dishonest, unjust and plain bonkers!
It is flawed because it rests on a false premise: the lie that the more Islamic a person is, the more of a potential threat they pose. ‘Deradicalisation’ has therefore come to mean making Muslims less Islamic and more ‘westernised’ or secular, using coercive means.
It is dishonest for the very same reason – because it hides this agenda of forced-assimilation behind a security threat. Just a few months ago, the organisation Europol published research that showed the percentage of terrorist attacks in Europe motivated by religious motivation (of which those committed by Muslims is a subset) was 2%. Even if the real target of such policies was violence rather than identity, criminalising whole communities for their political opinions or religious values is utterly disproportionate – as is expecting teachers, doctors, nurses and nursery workers to be a security arm of the state.
It is unjust because using loose definitions (exemplified by Theresa May’s babbling on BBC Radio 4 Today programme – 13th of May) means it will be so broad that it catches any non-establishment political views or less-than-liberal religious views. This means that the state will either clamp down on these people as well – or (more likely) the laws will be applied selectively, further politicising the criminal justice system.
There are many hypocritical ironies to these policies. Do they really want to deal with ‘Poppy-Burners’ by taking a flame thrower to Magna Carta? Are they serious about talking about ‘rule of law’ as being a fundamentally ‘British value’ when their own security services violate it so frequently? Will they really label every critic of liberal values or the democratic system as an extremist’? Can they really claim to be a bastion of ‘free speech’ yet criminalise the views they don’t like or can’t refute?
It is bonkers because, whilst everyone in society can discuss issues such as Syria, Palestine, Jihad, Shari’ah and ISIS, most Imams and Islamic scholars donot dare discuss these issues in any meaningful way for fear of being labeled ‘extremist’ or ‘hate-preachers’ – so leaving a mountain of unanswered questions for the Muslim youth. This is utterly stupid in an era when young people need legitimate Islamic answers to difficult questions.
Our aim is to continue to discuss these issues, educate Muslims about them to the best of our ability, and to encourage other Muslims to do the same.
Our aim is to work in protecting people’s Islamic identity at a time when they are being bullied into hiding it.
Our aim is to expose pernicious policies like these wherever and whenever we can, and to encourage practitioners of these policies to reject them.
They are not about ‘terrorism’ or violence – they are about identity, political views and religious values. They are a deflection from government policies – foreign and domestic – that are recognized drivers of legitimate grievances.
Cameron, May and Gove doubtless think they are more capable than Stalin, Islam Karimov and the leaders of Quraysh in forcing Muslims to abandon Islamic values.
However, it is our belief that just as their forebears failed to both convince Muslims by intellectual argument they will similarly fail to coerce Muslims by force.
Every student of history or religion knows that whenever an arrogant ruling class tries to crush the values of a principled few, they always end humiliated.
Dr Abdul Wahid
Executive Committee Chair
Hizb ut-Tahrir, Britain