Anti-terror code ‘would alienate most Muslims’

The government is considering plans that would lead to thousands more British Muslims being branded as extremists, the Guardian has learned. The proposals are in a counterterrorism strategy which ministers and security officials are drawing up that is due to be unveiled next month.

According to a draft of the strategy, Contest 2 as it is known in Whitehall, people would be considered as extremists if:

  • They advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries.
  • They promote Sharia law.
  • They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.
  • They argue that Islam bans homosexuality and that it is a sin against Allah.
  • They fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Inayat Bunglawala, a former spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain, said such plans would affect many British Muslims. Bunglawala, who now runs Engage, which tries to get Muslims to participate in politics and civic society, said: “That would alienate the majority of the British Muslim public. It would be counterproductive and class most Muslims as extremists.”

Guardian, 16 February 2009

Update:  Melanie Phillips is sceptical: “… can anyone really imagine, for example, ministers who forbid even using the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ ceasing to throw money in the direction of Tariq Ramadan, the charismatic but slippery poster-boy for ‘modernising Islam’ whose real agenda is actually the Islamising of modernity – and who is such a favourite within Britain’s security establishment because of his Pied Piper appeal to young British Muslims? Are ministers really intending to treat the Muslim Brotherhood as beyond the pale – where indeed they belong – instead of as now seeking their help to counter the extremism they themselves exemplify? Just to pose such questions is to illustrate quite how seismic the proposed change from the current madness would be.”

Over at Harry’s Place, Mad Mel’s co-thinker David Toube offers a more positive assessment of the proposals – “they seem spot on, to me” – and refers us to the views of Dean Godson.

See also comments by Asim Siddiqui at Comment is Free, Sunny Hundal at Pickled Politics, and Richard Seymour at Lenin’s Tomb, who writes:

“What the British government is demanding is conformity and patriotism of a kind that makes Norman Tebbit’s ‘cricket test’ look relatively harmless. He just wanted people to support the English side in some strange recreational activity originating in the 16th Century. These bastards want everyone to support an imperialist army that shares responsibility for, among other things, over a million deaths in Iraq. The language is such that they appear to be targeting Muslims in particular, but this is ultimately about leveraging patriotism and anti-Muslim racism the better to conscript public opinion in support of the government’s wars, and discipline antiwar opposition.”