(London, U.K.) - The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) applauds the major revisions to the UK government’s new guidance on the Prevent counter-extremism strategy, which recognises the timely recommendations of the independent Shawcross Review that reported earlier this year.
CEP has been involved throughout the process of reviewing the Prevent strategy, submitting detailed evidence during the consultation phase. CEP is pleased to see that many of our recommendations have been adopted in the updated guidance the government has released.
In her remarks last week, the Home Secretary was right to emphasise the importance of proportionality and to guard against drawing false equivalence between different ideologies. As CEP noted in its submission, clear distinctions need to be made between Islamist and far-right extremism, and legitimate political commentary.
Likewise, it is important not to dismiss the agency of individuals who have become radicalised. While there may be factors in their lives that make them more susceptible to extremist ideology, this should not obscure their responsibility for their actions.
CEP was especially reassured to hear the Home Secretary draw attention to increased violence and radicalisation around allegations of blasphemy. The need to withstand mob pressures is a matter of national security as much as freedom of speech. CEP repeatedly argued that a concerted effort is required under Prevent to address the permissive environments which have enabled the growth of this form of extremism. CEP is particularly pleased to see a specific commitment to tackle the antisemitic views which the review found prevalent in many Prevent referrals regardless of ideology.
Reacting to the new guidelines, CEP Strategic Advisor Liam Duffy said:
“We need a realistic and practical approach to address the various forms that extremism and violence take in this country. The new guidance and the Home Secretary’s comments represent an important step in bringing Prevent back in line with the threats that the country faces.”
CEP Senior Advisor Ian Acheson added:
“It is good to see that a sense of proportion has returned to the focus on Islamist extremism versus far-right extremism. Both are serious issues, but in recent years there has been a disconnect between the magnitude of the respective threats and the attention they have been given.”
To read CEP’s recent report on blasphemy, please click here.