UK Politics

Contest Two Has Been Published

Read all about it here.

Here are a few extracts:

As part of this strategy we will take action against those who defend terrorism and violent extremism. We will also continue to challenge views which fall short of supporting violence and are within the law, but which reject and undermine our shared values and jeopardise community cohesion. Some of these views can create a climate in which people may be drawn into violent activity. We have no intention of outlawing these views or criminalising those who hold them.

The Governmenthas got it right. It is right that we should stand up for liberal, pluralist, and democratic values. The scare stories about criminalising non-violent but extreme views have been proven false.

Here is a longer section which sets out the Government’s approach:

As Government, we will also continue to challenge views which fall short of supporting violence and are within the law, but which reject and undermine our shared values and jeopardise community cohesion – the strong and positive relationships between people of different ethnic, faith and cultural backgrounds in this country. Some of these views can create a climate in which people may be drawn into violent activity.

We have no intention of outlawing these views or criminalising those who hold them. Freedom of thought and speech are rights which are fundamental to our society. But we will not hear these views in silence. We should all stand up for our shared values and not concede the floor to those who dismiss them.

The duty on all of us – Government, citizens and communities – is to challenge those who, for whatever reason or cause, reject the rights to which we are committed, scorn the institutions and values of our parliamentary democracy, dismiss the rule of law and promote intolerance and discrimination on the basis of race, faith, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

We already have a long tradition of building strong, empowered and resilient communities, tackling all forms of hate crime, and promoting equal opportunities.

Our challenge to those who dismiss our shared values will continue to be reflected in the groups we support and the projects we sponsor.

We will ensure that local authorities understand the risk to community cohesion posed by some organisations. We will develop ways to help communities challenge those who want to work against our shared values.

We want to make it harder for violent extremists to operate in our country and win support for their activities and ideologies. But we also need to be clear about the kind of country which we want for ourselves.

Spot on.

A small footnote on MINAB:

Work to strengthen standards in mosques including working with the independent Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), an alliance of four Muslim groups, established to set standards and establish a system of self-regulation for mosques.

Fine, but MINAB must exclude the Muslim Association of Britain which, is the UK franchise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Daud Abdullah must also go from the MINAB steering group. Both are open supporters of violent extremism.

Finally, on the Radical Middle Way:

Separately, organisations such as Radical Middle Way, an established Government partner organisation, are promoting debate within UK Muslim communities, and using the internet to reach audiences in the UK and overseas. saw 65,000 unique hits in October 2008 (a figure that has risen steadily since April 2008 when the site received 40,000 hits).

Radical Middle Way International is now organising a series of high-profile tours by mainstream Islamic scholars overseas and will develop a specific website for each pilot country in the local language.

Projects like this demonstrate how the internet can be used to promote debate and to challenge extremist ideologies.

That is a good idea. However, care needs to be taken that the Radical Middle Way doesn’t do anything stupid, like for example:

– hosting Amr Khaled, who has expressed some very dubious and Mark Steyn-ish views about a demographic takeover of Europe by Muslims;

– organising public meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood speakers, Kemal El Helbawy (who believes that two year old Jewish children are “future soldiers”) and pro-Qaradawi Muslim Brotherhood cleric, Mustapha Ceric, who has called on Muslims to work for the creation of a Caliphate.

– promoting Catherine Hestletine, an activist in the jihadist and extremist group, MPACuk.

The Government should insist that the RMW cuts its links with the Islamist far right, as a condition of receiving further funding.

Finally, the Government has shown that it understands the ideological roots of Islamist extremism:

From the early 1980s onwards a quite different kind of terrorism began to emerge in the Middle East in conjunction with the resurgence of militant Islamist ideology.

They drew upon a long history of Islamist thinking in Egypt and in particular on the work of Sayyid Qutb, who in turn was greatly influenced by the Indian-born Islamist thinker Abul-Ala al Mawdudi.

By the early nineties some propagandists for Egyptian and other violent extremist organisations had settled in London. Some British extremist organisations began to support participation by people in this country in terrorism overseas.

I think we’d have no difficulty at all in naming those individuals.