‘IT is no good simply talking about violent extremism, we need to confront all extremism, we need to recognise that the poison of extremism is corrupting young minds and we need to stop it right where it starts,’ Tory PM Cameron said yesterday.
Trade unionists, socialists, human rights organisations and protesters fear that they too will be included in Cameron’s wide sweeping definition of ‘extremists’ and be targeted by the state. Andy Beech, Unison branch secretary for Liverpool John Moores University, told News Line: ‘They have already targeted organised trade unions, protesters and anti-austerity protesters.
‘They target protesters who have occupied buildings to try and make a difference. The government tries to label them as criminals when all they are doing is protesting against the draconian measures that the Tories are introducing. It is the Tory government’s policy which is extremist. They consider trade unionists as more than extremists, they consider trade unionists as the source of all evil.’
In announcing the new Tory ‘counter-extremism’ strategy, Cameron said that schools, colleges, universities, book shops or any other public premises used to ‘support extremism’ will be shut down. On this point Andy Beech responded: ‘This is going to create so many problems for the institutions, the students and the staff.
‘Who is to say that one person should be spying on another person, this is unworkable and impossible to enforce. It would just turn lecturer against student and student against student and create animosity where it does not exist.’
Tory Home Secretary Theresa May backed Cameron’s announcement up with her own. She said that the Tories will ‘systematically confront’ ‘extremism in all its forms’ and outlined the new sweeping state powers. She said yesterday that her new state powers will be applied to ‘neo-Nazi extremism’ just as much as ‘Islamist extremism’.
‘We will systematically confront and challenge extremist ideology, exposing it for the lie it is. And we will thwart its destructive consequences,’ she continued. We will disrupt all those who seek to spread hate and we will prosecute all those who break the law.’
She announced the launching of a full review of public institutions to ensure they are protected from ‘entryism’ or ‘infiltration by extremists’. This means that schools, further and higher education colleges, local authorities, the NHS and the civil service will all be under investigation. Also among the measures within the counter-extremism strategy are:
• Extremism disruption orders to stop individuals engaging in ‘extremist behaviour’.
• Tougher powers for broadcasting regulator Ofcom so action can be taken against radio and television channels ‘showing extremist content’.
• Demands that internet service providers do more to remove ‘extremist material’ and ‘identify those responsible for it’.
The Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Dr Shuja Shafi accused the government of a ‘misguided conveyor-belt theory’. He said: ‘We cannot help but also detect the McCarthyist undertones in the proposal to create blacklists and exclude and ban people deemed to be extremist.
‘These initiatives will not be successful if they perpetuate further alienation of the community and are used to restrict freedom of thought and expression, or to conflate conservative views with violent extremism without any evidence base.’