Zaynab Khojji
Sun, 2021-06-06 16:30

LONDON: The British government’s counter-terrorism strategy will treat hate preachers as a “priority threat” as concerns rise about a revival of Islamist terrorism.
Ministers are preparing to instruct counter-terrorism officials to monitor and “disrupt” the activities of those who “promote fear and division” without committing terrorist acts, British newspaper the Daily Telegraph has reported.
The move could lead to officials and police attempting to prevent certain extremists from giving out material on the streets and holding large events, and challenging them when they speak in public, a former counter-terrorism officer suggested.
The decision comes after a review by the government’s extremism commissioner, Sara Khan, and the former head of counter-terrorism policing, Sir Mark Rowley, warned that many “hateful extremists” who are not carrying out terrorist activities are able to operate with “impunity,” the newspaper reported.
It said that extremists were “creating a ‘chilling’ impact on freedom of expression,” and singled out Cage, an advocacy group whose “senior leaders have advocated supporting violent jihad overseas.”
The review accused the group of attempting to label efforts to counter extremism as Islamophobic.
However, the government is believed to have rejected a separate recommendation by the review that ministers should expand current criminal offenses relating to stirring up hatred.
“There will be a new flexibility to take on groups and ideologies that do not meet the terrorism threshold but contribute to the wider environment in which terrorism can get a foothold, including those that promote fear, division and alienation from democracy and the rule of law,” the paper quoted a Whitehall source as saying.
The approach is likely to encourage anti-extremism officials to intervene over hateful extremism even when there is no evidence of a link to terrorism.
Currently, the government’s anti-extremism program focuses on preventing people from being drawn into terrorism.
Officials also fear that a resurgence of Islamist extremism could be behind the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK.
Ministers are understood to have agreed a new way of dealing with extremist groups under existing legislation, which includes focusing resources on “disrupting” those who are seen to create an environment which can lead to terror.

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