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David Cameron: 'Great British resolve defeated Hitler, communism and the IRA - we can beat Isis'

By Claire Cromie

Published 20/07/2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech in Birmingham on July 20, 2015. Conspiracy theories of a powerful Jewish cabal or a Western plan to destroy Islam must be challenged in efforts to counter radicalisation, Cameron said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech in Birmingham on July 20, 2015. Conspiracy theories of a powerful Jewish cabal or a Western plan to destroy Islam must be challenged in efforts to counter radicalisation, Cameron said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

David Cameron has launched a five-year plan to crush Islamic extremism in the UK, saying "Great British resolve" faced down Hitler, defeated communism and "saw off the IRA's assault on our way of life".

He announced the anti-Isis drive in Birmingham today, with a stark warning to would-be jihadists that they will end up as "cannon fodder" or slaves.

The Prime Minister described "poisonous" extremist ideology as the "struggle of our generation" that has led up to 700 young Britons to fight for the self-styled Islamic State.

Muslim parents "living in fear" that their children may be radicalised will be able to apply to have their passports removed if they suspect them of planning to travel abroad to join a radical group, he said.

A new Extremism Bill will include "narrowly-targeted" powers to tackle "facilitators and cult leaders" and stop them "peddling their hatred", said Mr Cameron.

"These people aren't just extremists, they are also despicable far-right groups too, and what links them all is their aim to groom young people and brainwash their minds," said the Prime Minister.

"Let's be clear who benefits most from us being tough on these non-violent extremists - it's Muslim families living in fear that their children could be radicalised and run off to Syria, and communities worried about some poisonous far-right extremists planning to attack your mosque."

The Government's new Bill is likely to include:

  • Banning orders for extremist organisations who use hate speech in public places.
  • New extremism disruption orders to restrict people who seek to radicalise young people.
  • Powers to close premises where extremists seek to influence others.
  • A strengthened role for Ofcom to take action against channels which broadcast extremist content.

Mr Cameron also said the Government would take action to tackle sectarian and communal segregation in schools.

Universities should be ready to challenge extremist speakers on campus and broadcasters should use a wider range of speakers from Muslim communities, rather than repeatedly putting extreme voices on screen, he said.

And he said the UK should do more to promote its own creed of tolerance, democracy, the rule of law and freedom of speech and should make clear that the doctrine of respect for different faiths must be matched by those faiths supporting the British way of life.

In stark examples of what senior police officers have described as Islamic State's (IS) capacity to "reach" into communities in the UK, families including women and young children have fled to Syria in an apparent attempt to join the group.

In June 17-year-old Talha Asmal, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was reported to have become Britain's youngest suicide bomber.

Then the threat posed by IS was horrifyingly demonstrated by the Tunisia beach attack, which killed 38 people including 30 Britons.

Mr Cameron has pulled no punches in his rhetoric on the issue of extremism, including his controversial appeal to Muslim communities to take more responsibility for countering the threat.

There also appears to have been a concerted effort to counter IS's wide-reaching propaganda machine with warnings to young Britons not to be fooled by the "glamour" of the group's online recruitment tactics.

One topic of debate is likely to be the definition used for extremism in the new strategy. It is currently defined as "vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs". It also includes "calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas".

Earlier this month a key plank of previous legislation requiring councils, prisons and schools to take action to stop people being drawn into terrorism came into force.

The Government's plans will undoubtedly be scrutinised extremely closely as they crystallise into firm policy and they have already provoked questions from a string of opposition figures, freedom of speech campaigners and civil liberties groups.

There is also unease among some in the Islamic community.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, claimed the Government's strategy "will fail unless British Muslims are consulted and our concerns addressed".

He added: " Politicians using the British Muslim community as a political football will be resisted."

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