13 September 2011
This morning Quilliam’s co-founder and chairman, Maajid Nawaz, testified on behalf of Quilliam before the Home Affairs Select Committee on the topic of ‘Roots of Violent Radicalisation alongside Rashad Ali of Centri. Maajid Nawaz spoke directly after Peter King, the US congressman who is currently holding similar hearings on domestic radicalisation in the US. The testimony discussed not only how individuals become radicalised but also about what could be done to prevent such radicalisation.
Quilliam’s testimony emphasised the following points:
1. Lack of new Prevent work on the ground. Quilliam emphasised that although Prime Minister David Cameron’s new Prevent strategy was launched in June to combat both violent and non-violent extremism, there is no evidence that this new strategy is yet being rolled out on the ground by civil servants to any meaningful degree. What Prevent work is currently being carried out at a grassroots level, is largely a continuation of existing work that was begun under the old Prevent strategy.
2. No national strategy to challenge non violent extremism. Although there has been some progress towards challenging extremism (for instances in schools and universities), the government as a whole has no clear strategy for promoting grass-roots challenges to extremism (including both far-right and Islamist). This risks undermining the government’s claims to be serious about tackling extremism and intolerance.
3. No criteria for engagement with extremists. Despite the Prevent strategy’s commitment to excluding extremists from receiving Prevent funds and to tackling extremism, Quilliam is concerned that government practitioners have not yet produced criteria for either engaging with extremism or any means to effectively identify extremists. Quilliam believes that extremism can only be tackled through a nuanced range of mechanisms for both challenging and engaging extremists.
4. Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the UK should remain lawful. Quilliam reiterated its opposition to banning the extremist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the UK. Quilliam’s position remains that although the group’s UK wing helps to create an environment in which radicalisation can occur, it does not carry out terrorist attack itself. Quilliam does not believe that extremism alone justifies a ban. Maajid Nawaz did however emphasise that in countries where Hizb-ut-Tahrir actively seeks to overthrow democratic regimes via military coups an existing ban makes sense.
5. Opposition to torture. Quilliam also reiterated its opposition to the use of all and any forms of torture (including water-boarding). Quilliam believes that torture is ineffective, counter-productive and immoral, contrary to Congressman Peter King’s testimony.
Quilliam stands by our recommendation made immediately after the recent Prevent Review that a National coordinator should be appointed to Downing Street to manage National Cohesion and extremism issues.