Taskforce to tackle hate preachers

New measures to tackle hate preachers and extremist websites have been proposed by a taskforce set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby at Woolwich barracks.

The taskforce report sets out officially for the first time a definition of Islamist radicalism, making clear that it is a distinct ideology which should not be confused with traditional religious practice.

The proposals include a new Terror and Extremism Behaviour Order - instantly dubbed the Tebo - which would allow civil authorities to take action against people seeking to radicalise others in a similar way to Asbos.

Other measures could include filters to block radicalising Internet websites, even if they are hosted abroad, and new powers to deal with organisations which raise funds for terror or spread extremist messages under the guise of charities.

The task force, led by Home Secretary Theresa May, makes clear that the problem that must be dealt with is not simply violent extremism itself, but activities which radicalise others in a way which might lead them into extremist action.

Unveiling the proposals during his visit to China, Mr Cameron said he wanted to see "an end to hate preaching in Britain" and left no doubt that he intends to implement the recommendations of the report.

"If it is necessary on the advice of police and others to take action, then we would," said the Prime Minister.

"This could apply to people and groups that are spreading this poisonous narrative that can do so much damage to our country and poison and radicalise young minds.

"There are just too many people who have been radicalised in Islamic centres, who have been in contact with extremist preachers, who have accessed radicalising information on the internet and haven't been sufficiently challenged. I want to make sure in our country that we do this effectively."

He said this would involve "both keeping out hate preachers, which we do - and the Home Secretary has been very vigorous on that - and also using the full force of the law when people are inciting hatred and violence".

Alongside the Tebo plan, the task force's proposals include:

:: Considering if there is a case for new types of order to ban groups which seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech;

:: Giving more support to places facing the biggest integration challenges, especially those communities where extremism is a particular problem;

:: Consulting on new legislation to strengthen the powers of the Charity Commission;

:: Working with internet companies to restrict access to terrorist material online which is hosted overseas;

:: Improving the process for the public to report extremist content online;

:: Make delivery of the Channel programme, which supports individuals at risk of being radicalised, a legal requirement in England and Wales;

:: Ensuring prisoners who have demonstrated extremist views in prison receive intervention and support on release.

Mr Cameron said help could be given to Islamic centres and mosques which find themselves unable to rid themselves of radical members whose views they oppose.

And he made clear that the Government's concern about radicalism also relates to Islamophobic extremism, such as the murder of 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem, who was stabbed to death by a Ukrainian student as he walked home from a mosque earlier this year.

"This summer we saw events that shocked the nation with the horrific killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich and murder of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham," said Mr Cameron. "These tragedies were a wake-up call for Government and wider society to take action to confront extremism in all its forms, whether in our communities, schools, prisons, Islamic centres or universities.

"I have been absolutely clear that this is not something we should be afraid to address for fear of cultural sensitivities. We have already put in place some of the toughest terrorism prevention controls in the democratic world, but we must work harder to defeat the radical views which lead some people to embrace violence.

"The Task Force I set up has proposed a broad range of measures to counter the extremist narrative and I will make sure they are taken forward."

The report defines Islamist extremism as "a distinct ideology which should not be confused with traditional religious practice (and)... is based on a distorted interpretation of Islam, which betrays Islam's peaceful principles".

Islamist extremists describe Western intervention in Muslim countries as a "war on Islam" and seek to impose a global Islamic state under Shari'a law, says the report.

And it adds: "Their ideology also includes the uncompromising belief that people cannot be Muslim and British, and insists that those who do not agree with them are not true Muslims."

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