Part II of the Tackling Extremism in the UK report
see Tackling Extremism in the UK: An ideological attack on Muslim communities for part I
In the wake of the killing of Lee Rigby, a soldier in the British army who served in Afghanistan, the UK government established a task force in order to set out proposals for the way they would tackle ‘extremism’ within Muslim communities. As a late addition to this process, the government included references to far-right extremism in light of the murder of Birmingham resident, Mohammed Saleem, and due to a series of attacks against mosques in the West Midlands.
The first part of the CAGE response to the UK government’s Task Force into ‘extremism’ tackled the ideological deficiencies and assumptions that underpinned the way in which the Task Force approached the ‘problem’ of ‘extremism’.
This second part to our response seeks to tackle the suggestions put forward in the report from a methodological perspective. As the government seeks to bring the term ‘extremism’ out of policy and into legislation, the ramifications on doing so from a civil liberties and human rights perspective could be devastating for Muslim communities.
Since 2001, the UK government has sought to use a civil system in order to bypass the requirements of due process that are recognised under the criminal justice system. By permitting there to be a raft of sanctions to restrict the liberty of individuals, they are capable of making arbitrary decisions, resulting in the individual having to go through an appeals process where the evidence against them is held in secret.
Already, difficulties in relation to the civil system have been witnessed as those who had their citizenships removed, placed under control orders (now TPIMs) or set for deportation to their countries of origin – have in many cases successfully challenged the sanctions against them, except that it took years to attempt to prove that somehow they had not committed any offences that were being alleged against them in secret.
The UK government’s call for new sanctions is envisaged to very much fall within the context of this regime. Any of the orders that are made against an individual, whether that he/she is banned from mosques, or that they are not permitted to publicly deliver lectures, will be placed within a regime where the actual evidence of concern, will kept in secret.
While the designation of ‘Islamist extremism’ or even ‘extremism’ remains vague, the opportunities for the Home Secretary to abuse such powers are far too open. Before responding to the way in which the Task Force has recommended to deal with ‘extremism’ it is important to understand the way the term has already been used as part of a programme of secrecy, profiling and harassment.