From left to far right, which groups could end up on the UK extremism list? | Conservatives

Far-right and Islamist groups are among those expected to be included in a list the government will publish in the coming weeks as part of a new definition of extremism.

The communities minister, Michael Gove, named five groups to MPs on Thursday – three Muslim-led and two far-right – which he said would be examined under the new legislation.

However, MPs from the Conservative and opposition side voiced concern that a much wider range of groups could end up on the list in the future. Here are some of movements that could be affected.

Muslim and pro-Palestinian

Gove used parliamentary privilege to name the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage and Mend as groups that would be assessed.

Cage, which describes itself as an advocacy group for prisoners, is headed by figures including Moazzam Begg, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee. While its work has been described as “vital” by the human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, others have described the group as being an apologist for terrorism.

Mend describes itself as a community-funded organisation aiming to encourage political, civic and social engagement in British Muslim communities, but there have been claims it has links to extremists.

Gove also mentioned the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which he described as the British affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in 1997, MAB says it evolved from the older Muslim Student Society (MSS) with the aim of providing “a comprehensive programme of spiritual, intellectual and social development firmly rooted in the teachings of Islam”.

A draft version of Gove’s ministerial statement had also named Friends of al-Aqsa and 5Pillars as “divisive forces within Muslim communities”.

Before the government announcement, another group that was mooted in the rightwing press was Palestine Action, which has been conducting direct action protests against Israeli arms manufacturers in the UK, and issued a joint statement this week with Cage that was critical of Gove’s plans.

The far right

Gove named Patriotic Alternative (PA), which has emerged from the fractured far-right scene and splits in the British National party, and an older but lesser known group, the British National Socialist Movement, as two that would be assessed for inclusion on the list.

PA is led by a digital-savvy younger generation seeking to present themselves as a “white pride” organisation. It blends traditional far-right causes, such as hostility to immigration, with others, such as preserving the countryside and helping the homeless.

It has sought to piggyback on protests against hotels accommodating refugees, including those which led to riots in Liverpool last year.

Founded in 1968, the British National Socialist Movement is described by the counter-extremist organisation Hope Not Hate as one of the few openly Nazi groups still active in the UK. After a period of dormancy, its activities included opening a gym in Manchester last year and seeking to promote a “fitness network”.

Culture wars

While Gove said the new definition would not affect gender-critical campaigners, those with conservative religious beliefs and trans activists, MPs who fear such groups could ultimately end up subject to the definition disagreed.

The Scottish National party MP Joanna Cherry mentioned the LGB Alliance, a charity other MPs have described as a “hate group” because, she said, it had “raised the hitherto unfashionable but now vindicated concerns” about the prescription of puberty blockers.

The charity was founded in October 2019 by two veteran lesbian activists to campaign for the rights of same-sex attracted people.

Judges ruled last year that Mermaids – a charity that supports transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children and their families – could not challenge the LGB Alliance’s charitable status.

Environmentalism and the left

Just Stop Oil has become a bete noire for many MPs, with its direct action targeting major public events and political gatherings.

Greenpeace, whose activists scaled Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire home last year in protest against the government’s decision to expand North Sea oil drilling, said this week that government attempts to capture more groups in its official definition of extremism risked fuelling the very extremism it claimed to be trying to quell.

Another group that has faced criticism from Conservative MPs in the past is Black Lives Matter, a name which appeared as a co-signatory of the statement by Cage and Palestine Action.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Back To Top