The dropping of terror charges yesterday against celebrated human rights activist and ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, after having been detained for seven months on grounds of facilitating terrorism at a Syrian training camp, speaks volumes about the self-defeating direction of Britain's failed counter-terrorism policies...
When the Home Secretary said "British values will prevail in the end" against extremism, if she's talking about freedom of speech, then she's certainly missed a trick. The fact that surfaces with the revelation of these measures under the banner of "British Values" is in reality a demonization of a single community - a community just like any other.
If we are really concerned about the likes of Anjem Choudary poisoning minds to take up violence to overthrow democracy, banning him from our television screens is the wrong way... We make much of the liberty to think and voice our opinions. The line that most free speech advocates draw is an incitement to kill. For which laws currently exist, along with counter terrorism legislation. The home secretary risks making Choudary a victim for Islamists to rally for with the new proposals. Young people, with radical religious notions of changing the world, will have an officially state stamped underground movement. How nice of us to signal that for them.
While as a nation we should take all measures legally possible to combat violent extremism, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-Semitism, we should have nothing to fear from young radical minds. A successful Prevent programme is one that ensures that such minds are nurtured and empowered to contribute positively to society, not silenced or marginalised.
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of accounts on Twitter that promote and justify killings of civilians in Iraq, as well as Kurdistan. Some of the accounts tweet in Arabic, but have a English disclaimer that says, "Not IS". Other accounts are promoting IS ideological beliefs and urging others to join IS.
We now, to a larger and larger extent, see far-right extremists not only taking to the streets and intimidating communities, but entering European parliaments. De-politicising the incident in Norway did not help in stalling this development. This is not an alarmist claim, but an unfortunate reality we as Europeans must face.
This is the time for politicians of all hues to work with and not against the local and (new) national leadership in the Muslim communities. It may be weak and poorly organised, led largely by volunteers. But who is out there to engage with the Muslim community and bring a semblance of understanding and balance as well as practical support to the challenges they face to get things right?