‘We’ll ease up on Muslim fanatics’

Labour slammed the brakes on its war against violent extremism yesterday – amid fears it had upset Muslim voters. Millions spent preventing Asian kids becoming terrorists will now be used to tackle right-wing racists in WHITE areas. Community cohesion minister Shahid Malik admitted he was softening his stance because Muslims felt stigmatised.

More than £45million a year has been spent on measures to prevent Al-Qaeda recruiting young Muslims in the UK. It included action to break up Islamic ghettos and stop university hate preachers.

Mr Malik, the first British-born Muslim MP, yesterday unveiled plans to broaden the scope of the campaign. He announced: “We shall be putting a renewed focus on resisting right-wing racist extremism. We cannot dismiss or underestimate the threat.”

Mr Malik told Sky News: “You speak to any Muslim in this country and they are as opposed as you and I are to extremism and terrorism. The frustration is they are constantly linked with terrorism as a community as a whole.”

His action contrasts with the tough stance of ex-minister Hazel Blears. She broke links with Muslim groups that failed to denounce extremists. Her adviser Paul Richards said: “The good work by Hazel is being undone in the name of political correctness.”

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said: “This has been watered down for purely political reasons. Labour has always seen Muslim voters as its own property.”

Sun, 10 August 2009

The Daily Mail, for its part, reports Shahid Malik’s interview under the headline “Labour ‘weakens’ fight against Muslim extremism”.

The Daily Express goes with “£45 million war against extremism is ‘soft on Muslim youths'”. The headline is based on a comment by Paul Richards: “There is a real danger that if ministers relax the focus on Muslim youth, then it dilutes efforts to tackle terrorism.”

Richards goes on to warn that there is “also now a chance that ministers could invite the Muslim Council of Britain back into Whitehall after relations were frozen with the organisation earlier this year”.

See also the Daily Telegraph, 10 August 2009

Update:  See the NLGN’s new report Stronger Together: A new approach to preventing violent extremism, which underpins the change of emphasis by DCLG.

And the interview with John Denham here.

And Inayat Bunglawala’s comments here.

And MCB press release here.