Former counter-terrorism chief backs even tougher extremism laws

19th Mar 2021
Former counter-terrorism chief backs even tougher extremism laws

(Surrey County Council News/WikiCommons)

Hamed Chapman

A renewed attempt for even more ‘counter-extremism’ laws is being led by the Home Office’s Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) with the support of the former head of UK counterterror police Sir Mark Rowley.

In its latest report, the CCE seeks to demonstrate that existing legislation does not adequately deal with hateful extremism, including Neo-Nazi and so-called Islamist groups in Britain, who have not been proscribed.

“Today, we continue to see a wide spectrum of ideologically motivated extremist groups, individuals and platforms, whose activity does not meet the terrorism threshold,” the report said.
It warned that this is “helping to create a climate conducive to terrorism, hate crime and violence; or which is eroding the fundamental rights and freedoms of our democratic society.”

“They are actively radicalising others and are openly propagating for the erosion of our fundamental democratic rights. Their aim is to subvert our democracy. This is a threat to our civilised democratic order,” said lead commissioner Sarah Khan.

“That is why we are calling on the government to commit to devising a new legal and operational framework to capture the specific activity of hateful extremism,” said Khan who has acted as a government advisor in different capacities on extremism since 2015.

Rowley claimed that during the review he had been “shocked and horrified by the ghastliness and volume of hateful extremist materials and behaviour, which is lawful in Britain” despite previously being the national lead for Counter-Terrorism Policing.

“Not only have our laws failed to keep pace with the evolving threat of modern-day extremism, but current legal boundaries also allow extremists to operate with impunity,” he warned.
However, according to Cage, an independent advocacy organisation, the latest report by CCE is “shallow and bereft of analysis” and is “no more than a feeble attempt to further weaponise ‘counter-extremism’ to eradicate dissenting political opinions and clampdown on groups, which hold the state to account.”

“Extremism is a deliberately amorphous concept, which makes it ripe for political abuse. The newly touted ‘Hateful extremism’ definition by the CCE, is stretched so thin as to be useless as an analytical tool. It is deliberately nebulous so it can be wielded against any groups that challenge the status quo,” it said.Managing Director of CAGE, Muhammad Rabbani said the commission set up in 2017 following the Manchester bombing “represents a fringe authoritarian and insidiously Islamophobic lobby within the halls of power.” “They have no interest in resolving the systemic issues facing our society, but rather to simply exploit them for political and ideological expediency,” he said.

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