Much commentary has been written on the Counter-Extremism Bill. The journalist Dilly Hussain has done a comprehensive article addressing the key points of the Bill. CAGE has published a blog which neatly highlights the excessive, hypocritical, dangerous and completely unnecessary nature of the proposals. The organisation has further published a point by point breakdown of whatever ambiguous information has been thus far provided.
There are few articles which delve into the noxious nature of the Extremism measures on this blog too:
A Critical Overview of the Counter Extremism Strategy
Counter Extremism Strategy “Really is Counter-Islamic Strategy”
On Extremism Disruption Orders
Will the UK Government’s Counter-Extremism Programme Criminalise Dissent? (Arun Kundnani)
In this blog, I would like to elucidate some additional noteworthy points and arguments on the measures. I will also focus on other proposals, which seem at first to be disconnected to the Extremism Bill, yet also foster the neoconservative closed society.
The Government’s Counter Extremism strategy was published today following reports in the weekend papers about £5 million in funding being put aside to fund groups “to build a national coalition against extremism – in communities and online” and mention of the strategy including measures to ban “hate preachers from using the internet or working with children”.
The strategy published today is much the same in content as the report by the Prime Minister’s Extremism Taskforce which has laid much of the groundwork for what has since followed in policy announcements about tackling extremism. The criticisms levelled at the Taskforce report, about its lack of evidence base to validate assertions made and its overreliance on the notion of “ideology” being at the root of radicalisation are all repeated in the strategy published today.
The strategy also reiterates much of what we have already heard from the Home Secretary, Theresa May and the Prime Minister, David Cameron about the Government’s “crackdown” on extremism, with its conflation of integration policy, on “boosting opportunity and integration”, and racialised, essentialist assumptions about Muslims and “illegal cultural practices” such as forced marriage, honour killings and female genital mutilation.
The references to a review of shari’ah tribunals in the UK sits uneasily in a strategy supposedly about championing British values and celebrating the “vibrant, buoyant and diverse” British society that has been cultivated over the years.
More strange is a citation which presents evidence submitted to Baroness Caroline Cox as evidence of “extremism” – this is the same Baroness Cox who invited Geert Wilders to the UK and said of Muslims, “Islam is using the freedoms of democracy to destroy it”. There is a certain irony in making mention of individuals with extremist connections in a strategy about “counter-extremism”. Odd too that the Extremism Analysis Unit which is supposedly the holy grail in identifying “extremists” missed the likes of Baroness Cox and her association with the notoriously Islamophobic Gatestone Institute. A case of civil servants asleep on the job?
If there was any doubt remaining that the current British strategy to tackle “extremism” is a thinly veiled policy to discriminate against the followers of Islam, then the following should remove any remnants of uncertainty.
As reported by 5PillarsUK, Shakeel Suleman has been prevented by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) from adopting a child due to being flagged by the Derbyshire Constabulary as “holding radical and extreme views”.
The far-right/neocon-style reasoning provided by the police force is frankly shocking. The following has been categorised as “extreme views”:
- Sharing a link from the Hizb-ut-Tahrir website including the news of the release of Moazzam Begg,
- Supporting the creation of the Caliphate,
- Adherence to the Shari’ah
- Anti-western rhetoric
- Anti-establishment views
Fundamentally, personally held views are being used arbitrarily by authorities to determine the citizen’s conformity to a government standard of “valid views”, rather like the totalitarian regimes the West so hypocritically chides. Presumably, thinkers like Noam Chomsky or activists such as Russell Brand and Frankie Boyle would have a problem adopting a child, given their “anti-Western” and/or “anti-establishment” views.