CAIRO – Experts have fired back against Britain’s plans to crackdown on “Islamist extremism” to tackle radicalized crime influenced by “hate preachers”, saying it risks backfiring by fuelling anti-Muslim prejudice and driving hardliners underground.
“There has to be parity and not a feeling that Muslims are being singled out,” Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Tell Mama, which records anti-Muslim incidents, told The Independent on Wednesday, December 4.
Mughal’s fears were ignited by the British Prime Minister’s comments yesterday from Beijing.
"This summer we saw events that shocked the nation," Cameron, who is in China on a trade trip, told reporters.
"These tragedies were a wakeup call for government and wider society to take action to confront extremism in all its forms, whether in our communities, schools, prisons, Islamic centers or universities.
“I want to make sure in our country that we do this effectively. But we need to go further than that and realize that some institutions have wanted to get rid of radicalizes but have not had the means to do so – so we want to help Islamic centers and mosques to expel the extremists,” he added.
Under the Prime Minister’s proposals, Islamist radicals face being expelled from mosques, Muslim community groups and universities in a fight-back against fundamentalism.
The courts would be given new civil powers to ban suspected extremists from preaching or indoctrinating others.
At the same time internet companies have been asked to block terrorist material from overseas being accessed in this country.
The measures were proposed by the PM’s extremism task force, which included ministers, community groups, the police and the security services, set up after the killing of Lee Rigby.
Mughal asserted that he feared Cameron’s announcements would reinforce negative perceptions of Muslims.
As a result, he had asked extra staff to be on standby because of an anticipated surge in hate attacks.
He added that the new rules should cover all forms of extremism, including the activities of the far right.
Rejecting the new decisions, experts said they risk backfiring by fuelling anti-Muslim prejudice and driving hardliners underground.
“The more the lens is turned on the Muslim community, the more society begins to think, ‘There’s no smoke without fire’,” Chris Allen, an expert on Islamophobia at Birmingham University, said
Isabella Sankey, the director of policy at Liberty, said it was important to confront “ugly ideologies across the spectrum”.
“Driving those who despise diversity further underground does nothing to expose their beliefs and only acts as another recruitment tool.
“You cannot protect our democracy by shutting down the very freedoms that sustain it,” she added.
Britain's 2.7 million Muslims have taken full brunt of anti-terror laws since the 7/7 attacks.
British Muslims and mosques have been potential targets for dozens of attacks after the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, south London, last May.
A video showed the attackers, who are Muslim converts of Nigerian origin, blaming British policies for the killing and calling on Britons to remove their government.
British Muslims have condemned the machete killing as contradicting with the basic teachings of Islam.
Yet, the number of anti-Islamic attacks has increased as much as tenfold in the days that followed the Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
A series of attacks against Muslim targets included three terrorist bombings targeted at different mosques in West Midlands in July.
Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks in Britain, has also reported 212 “anti-Muslim incidents” after the Woolwich attack, including 11 attacks on mosques.
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