Leading British Islamic groups have urged the government to consult Muslims over plans for combating extremism, warning that knee-jerk policies risk exacerbating the problem and damaging social cohesion.
The home secretary, Theresa May, has proposed a series of measures to address the radicalisation of Muslims, including new controls on the internet and the banning of groups preaching hate.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) – which described the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week as “a horrific instance of extremism” – said that while a new and effective strategy was needed, it must not be rushed through at the expense of British Muslims or society at large.
“We hope wisdom prevails as we reflect on the response of these past few days and the missed opportunities of previous years,” it said in a statement on Sunday. “We must be vigilant and ensure we do not inadvertently give into the demands of all extremists: making our society less free, divided and suspicious of each other. Lessons from the past indicate that policies and measures taken in haste can exacerbate extremism.”