by Wasiq Wasiq
Wednesday, 2
November 2022
Analysis
13:53

Britain’s renewed focus on Islamic extremism is welcome

Suella Braverman is right to review the UK's counter-terrorism strategy
by Wasiq Wasiq
Suella Braverman is updating the Government’s approach to terrorism. Credit: Getty

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is reported to be updating the British government’s flagship counter-terrorism programme, CONTEST, amid claims that not enough is being done to stop radical Islamists. This is a sensible reason for a revamp, but the Home Office must ensure that any change looks at how the strategy has been weakened over the years by treating far-Right extremism as more of a pressing concern than its Islamist counterpart.

The primary aim of CONTEST is to reduce the risk to the UK and its citizens and interests overseas from terrorism, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence. But this aim is hindered when it seems that the rights of terrorists are being prioritised over those of their victims. For example, Usman Khan, the Islamist terrorist responsible for the London Bridge attack which killed two people, Jack Merrit and Saskia Jones, is to be removed from a council report amid claims that his inclusion could play into the hands of far-Right extremists.

The Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting which was held at Staffordshire County Council was reviewing the Chief Coroner’s report following the death in the attack of one of its local citizens. Councillor Gillian Pardesi suggested that including Khan’s name and the fact that he was of Pakistani decent would further “demonise the Muslim community” and embed a “stereotypical profile of what an extremist is.” Pardesi went on to suggest that, given the country is facing a financial crisis, the far-Right and neo-Nazis — who pose far more of a threat than Islamist jihadis — will be looking for scapegoats. The Muslim community will therefore be at risk from further attacks.

These statements run contrary to reality. To suggest that including the name of Usman Khan in the report will demonise the Muslim community is tenuous, given the same argument doesn’t apply to the general UK population with the inclusion of a far-Right extremist. Additionally, removing the name of an Islamist extremist plays more into their hands than it does the far-Right, as jihadists will be able to achieve anonymity when the same would not be true for other types of terrorism. This gives them a pass and empowers them more when even official bodies are refusing to name them. 

As for the claim that the far-Right pose far more of a threat than Islamist jihadis, this is not rooted in fact. When you look at conviction rates for terrorism, offences connected to far-Right terrorism are dwarfed by Islamist jihadism year on year. The highest number of far-Right terror-connected offences in a year is 44, whereas the lowest number of Islamist offences is 79. What’s more, there is no comparable far-right terrorist organisation that can match the likes of al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS) or Boko Haram.

Situations where the rights of terrorists are being prioritised over that that of their victims show a mismatch between CONTEST’s stated purpose and its application. For example, if official bodies appear to be appeasing the terrorists by not accurately describing them — under the misguided belief that the Muslim community will be put at risk — they have no business dealing with matters of national security. Not only is this potentially risky; it also creates ‘victims’ who are nothing of the sort. 

The revamp of CONTEST will also need to be proportionate to the level of threat being posed by all types of extremism. Therefore, it would be sensible to devote funding and resources based on need, rather than ideology. The Shawcross review of PREVENT, which is one strand of CONTEST, will likely argue this point when it is released. We can only hope that policy from now on will tackle extremism wherever it exists, and not skirt over that which is politically inconvenient.

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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
24 days ago

You will only play into the hands of violent Anti-Muslim racists if the impression is given that Muslims generally want to shield their terrorist co-religionists. High level condemnation of the terrorists by prominent Muslims is surely the right approach rather than a futile attempt to disguise the religious faith and motives of the terrorists which is bound to fail.

Trying to hush the facts up merely exacerbates the problem for Muslims as it becomes easier to argue that they all support the terrorists. A much better approach would be noisy well-attended marches noisily proclaiming the terrorists were vile apostates and deserved eternal damnation rather than a thousand virgins in the afterlife.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
24 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Why does this never appear to happen ?? I am genuinely at a loss to understand that – the only logical explanation is that it is against Islamic law to condemn the actions of ANY other Islamic – in which case ‘they’ are functionally colluding ??

JP Martin
JP Martin
24 days ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

The research has consistently shown that extremist views are, in fact, quite mainstream among Muslim communities. The research by Pew, for instance, shows the prevalence of these attitudes within diaspora Muslim communities in many different countries. For every violent extremist, there are many more people who support their actions without engaging in direct violence themselves. Violent extremists exist within a broader ecosystem of extremism.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
24 days ago
Reply to  JP Martin

So the ‘integration’ goal is pure bullswool……

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
24 days ago
Reply to  JP Martin

You are correct. Regrettably, most people do not understand that their nice Muslim shop owner, whilst not committing any violent acts himself, may not condemn the acts or those who engage in the atrocities either. Others may pay lip service and denounce violence, but still hold on to the fundamental beliefs that are used to justify the acts. Ergo, I leave it up to each individual reader to analyse how credible such denouncements really are when the underlying theoretical construct is maintained.
I am certain that we all remember the horrible Bataclan attack in Paris in November 2015. The attack’s mastermind and several terrorists were linked to Molenbeek, a Brussels neighbourhood, and at least one of the suspects, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested there during a later raid. He had hidden himself in plain sight for more than four months! I do not believe for a moment that he spent all this time inside. Somebody must have seen him during the ongoing manhunt by French and Belgian police, yet nobody spoke up and the trail had gone cold until police investigators had a lucky break.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
24 days ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

It’s probably not much different from the unwillingness of middle class whites to publicly challenge progressive agendas.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
24 days ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

It is important to realise that the primary aim of Muslims, all Muslims, is to further the cause of Islam in whatever way they can. A few small sects have renounced violence, and further their cause by means of the example they set. This does not accord with Mohammed’s example, so they are demounced and persecuted by mainstream Islam. Mohammed set 2 key examples; ‘say and do whatever is necessary to get close enough to my (Islam’s) enemies to destroy them’, and ‘fight until there is no god but allah’, but only resort to violence when you can overcome your enemy. The first, ‘taqiyya’, is tactical lying. Thus you can tell non-believers that Islam is the ‘religion of peace’, while telling your fellow Muslims to kill those who insult – do not submit to – Islam. Both further the cause of Islam, so are OK. It also permits you to sort of criticise Muslim terrorists, not for the act of violence, but for its timing; Muslims in the West aren’t yet strong enough to force non-believers to submit, and using violence too soon gives the game away.

D Glover
D Glover
25 days ago

 For example, Usman Khan, the Islamist terrorist responsible for the London Bridge attack which killed two people, Jack Merrit and Saskia Jones, is to be removed from a council report amid claims that his inclusion could play into the hands of far-Right extremists.

But, that could only be useful to far-Right extremists if they were speaking the truth.

Last edited 25 days ago by D Glover
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
24 days ago

Far right terrorism? It is manifestly Disgusting as to how dishonest, disingenuous and downright seditious our police and politicians have been in even daring to suggest that such a concept exists, when Islamic terrorism and wars are being fought across Africa and the Middle East, and there is not a single extreme right group doing the same anywhere on the planet!

Rory Ferguson
Rory Ferguson
23 days ago

How is Islamic extremism not far-right?