BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom – British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a keynote speech Monday, July 20, it was vital to “de-glamorize” the Islamic State (ISIS) group and promised to clamp down on extremists at home, including non-violent ones.
Cameron said Islamist violence was driven by an ideology that is “not just subversive, but can seem exciting”, but warned would-be recruits that they were simply “cannon fodder”.
Speaking in the ethnically diverse city of Birmingham, he promised further powers to target anti-Semitic “conspiracy theorists” and those justifying terrorism by blaming Western foreign policy who helped radicalize young people.
Cameron also vowed to tackle sectarian segregation in schools, admitting that extremist ideology can “gain traction because of issues of identity and failures of integration”.
Faced with an exodus of hundreds of young people who have joined the ISIS group in Syria and Iraq, and fears of the risk posed by those who return, the government is searching for new solutions to tackle extremism and radicalization.
The speech by the Conservative leader, who was re-elected in May, set out the broad outlines of a 5-year strategy that will include new legislation to be published later this year.
The bill will include powers to “put out of action the key extremist influencers who are careful to operate just inside the law, but who clearly detest British society and everything we stand for”, Cameron said.
“We must de-glamorize the extremist cause, especially ISIL. This is a group that throws people off buildings, that burns them alive,” he said.
Addressing those tempted to join up, Cameron said: “If you are a boy, they will brainwash you, strap bombs to your body and blow you up. If you are a girl, they will enslave and abuse you.”
The authorities must also prove that “British” values such as the rule of law “are good for everyone”, he said, by enforcing prohibitions on culturally sensitive issues such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group representing hundreds of Muslim groups, welcomed the need to de-glamorize the ISIS group and Cameron’s call for better integration and opportunities for young people.
But Secretary General Shuja Shafi warned that the paths to extremism and terrorism are “complex and varied”, expressing concerns that the prime minister’s suggestions “will set new litmus tests which may brand us all as extremists”.
“Dissenting is a proud tradition of ours that must not be driven underground,” he said.
He added: “We need to define tightly and closely what extremism is rather than perpetuate a deep misunderstanding of Islam and rhetoric, which inevitably facilitates extremists to thrive.” – Rappler.com