Quilliam Welcomes Prime Minister’s Speech on Counter-Extremism

20 July 2015

Quilliam welcomes the government’s commitment to publishing a comprehensive counter-extremism strategy later this Autumn and is supportive of the strategic direction set out in the Prime Minister’s speech today.

As we have long advocated, there is a pressing need to challenge all forms of extremism, not simply its violent manifestations. Quilliam is therefore pleased that the Prime Minister has therefore identified extremist ideology and narratives as the root causes to be tackled, and the vulnerability of some young people to radicalisation as a key priority. Naming and shaming the Islamist ideology is a key step forward.

The commitment to the development and effective distribution of counter-narratives is of vital importance to counter the appeal of ISIL among British citizens and can prevent the kind of tragedies we see all too often, either in the shape of terrorist attacks or through travelling abroad to join a jihadist organisation. This includes busting conspiracy theories that, when unchallenged, feed a myopic extremist worldview.

Quilliam identifies that engaging UK civil society, and British Muslim communities within this, to help deliver the forthcoming counter-extremism strategy is central to doing this effectively. In particular, we share the government’s assessment that it needs to engage with hard-to-reach parts of Muslim communities such as women, young people and minorities within minorities.

Quilliam welcomes the mentions of key domains such as schools, prisons and media organisations who can play a positive role in countering extremism of all kinds and reducing vulnerability to radicalisation.

We hope that the strategy, when released, progressively promotes human rights values like equality before the law and freedom from discrimination as a natural antidote to extremism, and promotes British values as a powerful primary prevention tool to inoculate people against radicalisation.

As set out in the Quilliam report released on the tenth anniversary of 7/7, we recommend the following for the government’s counter-extremism strategy:

• Empower civil society voices, including Muslims who adhere to human rights norms, to oppose and challenge all forms of extremism.

• Build resilience in vulnerable institutions and sectors such as schools, universities, prisons and charities to prevent extremist entryism, through clearer whistleblowing procedures, higher human rights-based thresholds to be met for prospective staff, and raised awareness among those who work in these sectors about the dangers of extremism.

• Train frontline workers such as teachers, university staff, police officers, prison staff, healthcare workers and leaders of religious and community organisations, to carry out primary prevention work, predicated on promoting human rights, improving integration, and raising awareness of radicalisation.

• Develop a clearer prisons strategy for deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of terrorism-related offenders, particular in regard to returnee foreign terrorist fighters. Implement prison-specific primary prevention programmes to avert radicalisation of those vulnerable in prisons to stop these institutions being net exporters of extremism.

• Invest in developing countering-narratives to extremist ideology and make them accessible and attractive to young people who may be vulnerable to radicalisation, particularly through online work.

• Teach critical consumption skills to young people in schools to prevent their vulnerability to extremist propaganda and promote tolerance and pluralism to reduce identity crisis and improve integration

Quilliam Managing Director Haras Rafiq says: “This is the clearest commitment to countering non-violent extremism that I have seen in the last five years, and we hope it is followed up with a comprehensive strategy that will unify the UK against extremism of all kinds.”

For further comment, please contact Quilliam’s media desk on 02071827284 or by emailing [email protected].