David Cameron vows to tackle extremism in Britain

Prime minister says Muslim parents ‘living in fear’ that their children may be radicalised

British prime minister David Cameron has said new legislation being introduced by his government will include powers to put non-violent extremists who radicalise young people “out of action”.  Photograph: Paul Ellis/PA Wire.

British prime minister David Cameron has said new legislation being introduced by his government will include powers to put non-violent extremists who radicalise young people “out of action”. Photograph: Paul Ellis/PA Wire.

 

British prime minister David Cameron has said new legislation being introduced by his government will include powers to put non-violent extremists who radicalise young people “out of action”.

The move against Islamist “influencers” forms part of a five-year plan to limit the home-grown extremism which Mr Cameron said had led to up to 700 young Britons travelling abroad to fight for the Islamic State terror group and left Muslim parents “living in fear” that their children may be radicalised.

In a speech in Birmingham, Mr Cameron announced plans for a new scheme allowing parents to apply to have their own children’s passports removed if they suspect them of planning to travel abroad to join a radical group.

The prime minister said Britain must act to “de-glamourise” groups like Islamic State by making young people aware of the brutal reality of life in the parts of Iraq and Syria which they control.

He said the UK should do more to promote its own creed of tolerance, democracy, the rule of law and freedom of speech and should make clear that the doctrine of respect for different faiths must be matched by those faiths supporting the British way of life.

Low bar

Mr Cameron said it was not enough for extremists to say they opposed Islamic State in order to prove they were not a threat. This would be setting the bar for acceptability “ludicrously low”, and groups should be expected also to condemn conspiracy theories, anti-semitism and sectarianism, he said.

“We need to put out of action the key extremist influencers who are careful to operate just inside the law but who clearly detest British society and everything we stand for,” he said.

“These people aren’t just extremists, they are also despicable far-right groups too, and what links them all is their aim to groom young people and brainwash their minds.

“Let’s be clear who benefits most from us being tough on these non-violent extremists — it’s Muslim families living in fear that their children could be radicalised and run off to Syria, and communities worried about some poisonous far-right extremists planning to attack your mosque.”

A new Extremism Bill will include “narrowly-targeted” powers to tackle these “facilitators and cult leaders” and stop them “peddling their hatred”, said Mr Cameron.

He also said his government would take action to tackle sectarian and communal segregation in schools, and give communications watchdog Ofcom stronger powers to take action on foreign TV channels broadcasting hate preachers and extremist messages.

Universities should be ready to challenge extremist speakers on campus and broadcasters should use a wider range of speakers from Muslim communities, rather than repeatedly putting extreme voices on screen, he said.

PA