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Tories talk of freedom, but authoritarianism is their hallmark

Islamic symbol 'Crescent Moon' decorating top of building in Kota Kinabalu. Sabah, Malaysia by Dcubillas,  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, file at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Golden_Crescent_Moon.jpgThis last week something little-noticed happened which could have very worrying consequences for the future. All local authorities, NHS trusts, schools, universities, further education colleges, and prisons had a new statutory duty imposed on themto prevent extremist radicalisation taking place within their ambit. These new duties will be vastly intrusive. Local authorities will have to make checks on the use of its public buildings, its internet filters, and on any unregulated settings such as school clubs and groups and tuition centres. In case there is any backsliding, government inspectors will check to make sure all necessary actions are taken. And most sinister of all, the target for all this isn’t just extremist behaviour (whatever exactly that means), but ‘non-violent extremism’.

This embeds a further level of surveillance of the population than has ever been attempted in the UK in peacetime. The adverse effects of this mass spying have already been felt under the government’s so-called Prevent programme which led to children being reported for supporting Palestinian rights and opposing the British military presence in Afghanistan. Now the anti-Muslim crackdown is being taken further still, even though the Home Office believes there are less a hundred Britons currently fighting with Isis, yet whole Muslim communities are now at risk of being branded ‘extremist’.

The new powers involve banning orders on non-violent individuals and organisations deemed politically unacceptable, physical restriction orders on non-violent individuals deemed ‘harmful’. powers to close mosques, and vetting of broadcasters suspected of using extremist messages. This is a ‘full spectrum attack’ (as Cameron would say) on fundamental liberties. But as always the government has a meretricious brand to sell this censorship: it’s all in defence of basic British values!

All this exposes the deeply authoritarian streak in this government. It follows Theresa May’s repeated efforts on every occasion to introduce the mass surveillance snooper’s charter the spook are so keen on ( and already exercising, which is why they’re so anxious to get legal cover to regularise it). It comes on top of Grayling’s suppression of legal aid rights so that many lower-income families can no longer get justice, not to mention also his suppression of the use of books in prisons. It follows from Osborne’s relentless propaganda branding all unemployed persons as ‘shirkers’, from IDS’ attempts to airbrush the poor out of existence on the grounds that it’s all their fault, and even Cameron in a revealing outburst declaring “I’m going to close them (the BBC) down” in order to cow them into subservience.

And what is behind this gathering Islamaphobia? There is virtually no evidence of Muslim extremism in the UK, though there is plenty of evidence that there is deep resentment of British occupation of Muslim lands as well as US-UK support for dictatorships in both the Arab and Muslim world.

CC BY  Image credit: Crescent Moon by Dcubillas

4 Comments

  1. gerry says:

    Dreadful article: “there is no evidence of Muslim extremism in the UK” ? Are you having a laugh?

    Mehdi Hasan has written of the endemic anti Jewish hatred in UK Muslim communities: does that count?

    Gallup and all other pollsters have found zero tolerance for gays/lesbians in Muslim UK communities: does that count?

    A quarter of UK Muslims expressed sympathy for Charlie Hebdo/kosher supermarket killers: moderate stuff no doubt.

    Security services have thwarted 40 major terror plots since 2005, obviously excluding the beheading of Lee Rigby, and the terror threat level is severe.

    We understand why you want to pretend that extremism is not really an issue, given the nature of your constituency, but thankfully other MPs like Khalid Mahmood know that Islamic extremism is a huge problem here, as it is in every country on this planet. Your colleague Stephen Timms MP was nearly murdered by an Islamic extremist. Your article is disgraceful.

  2. swatantra says:

    What an absolute load of crap. Meacher really has outdone himself this time, and if anyone needs locking up its him, for peddling such rubbish. Can he not see what is going on around him? Is he oblivious to the Islamofacist threat?
    Does he not hear the News of atrocities committed here on the streets of Britain to Nigeria to Tunisia, every day?
    And its the Neo Nazis that are more of a threat to the Jewish Community as yesterday’s march showed, not Muslims; the terrorist Muslim is a threat to everybody, including his/her fellow moderate Muslims.
    If Mosques are being used to indoctrinate and radicalise the weak and the vulnerable then they need to be entered and cleansed by the authorities.
    Only good intelligence and surveillence and a bit more co-operation from the Muslim Community is going to stamp out this IS threat.
    And its duplicitous of Meacher to bring in Legal Aid, the BBC and Scroungers into this issue on Security.

  3. Billericaydickie says:

    Michael, we actually want to see a Labour government. Why don’t you just shut up? You are a multi millionaire waste of space. Go away and enjoy the millions you made from the working class.

  4. James Martin says:

    I’m sure that the families of the victims of ‘Jihadi John’ and the 7/7 bombers would beg to differ about Meacher’s throw-away line of there being “virtually no evidence of Muslim extremism in the UK”. What utter nonsense, but then Meacher is clearly more worried about being dubbed ‘Islamaphobic’ than he is in dealing with the largest fascist threat that currently exists in this country (hint, it ain’t the BNP, NF, EDL or for that matter UKIP, not that the UAF have realised of course).

    And what is this dangerous nonsense about ‘Muslim lands’? Do we live, as the reactionary right often claim, in a ‘Christian land’ then Michael? And what are the Christian and Yazidi communities that have been slaughtered and enslaved by ISIS in the name of ‘Muslim lands’ to make of a British MP seeming to now support the very concept upon which their persecution has been based?

    As others have said this is an utterly disgraceful article due to those dreadful and insulting comments – which is a shame because we do need to have a discussion about how the Prevent startegy will be used to attack and monitor school and college staff and to hold them responsible for the political actions of their current or ex-students who choose the path of clerical-fascism, something that seems to have had general acceptance – yet when white teenagers go to an EDL rally does any believe that it must be the fault of their class teacher or lecturer?

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