David Cameron’s plans to silence hate preachers and tackle the radicalisation of British Muslims have been welcomed by Jewish communal groups.
The Community Security Trust said a report published by the Prime Minister’s task force on extremism had outlined “important” areas where radical activity could be combated.
Details revealed by the government on Wednesday included a new definition of Islamic extremism, highlighting it as a “distinct ideology which should not be confused with traditional religious practice”, and a further pledge to tackle neo-Nazism.
Mr Cameron said Britain must “work harder to defeat the radical views which lead some people to embrace violence”. He said that some Muslim institutions had wanted to “get rid of radicalisers but haven’t had the means to do so”.
A spokesman for the CST, which mon- itors antisemitism in the UK, welcomed the report as “an important framework for identifying the areas where extremism and radicalism need to be tackled. As ever, the proof will be in its implementation and we look forward to seeing the more substantial proposals that are promised in the report.”
The use of new civil orders, likened to anti-social behaviour orders, could be introduced to ban groups that use hate speech. Similar in effect to an Asbo, the possible new orders have already been dubbed “Tebos” or “Hate-bos”.
The plans have been drawn up by Mr Cameron’s anti-extremism task-force, established after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich earlier this year.
Blocking extreme Islamist websites, identifying geographic “radicalism hotspots”, and barring individuals from entering mosques and community centres are among the measures being considered.
The task-force suggested more should be done to disrupt extremists’ attempts to exploit charities for their own ends. There will also be renewed support for initiatives such as Holocaust Memorial Day.
But anti-extremism group Quilliam, which assisted the task-force, warned of the difficulties of combating radicals. Ghaffar Hussain, Quilliam’s head of research, said negative measures risked “pushing extremists into the darker corners of the web where engagement and monitoring are much more difficult.”
Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson has warned of the continuing need for “absolute vigilance” against Islamist extremists.
He suggested the number of radicalised Muslims in the city could be in the “low thousands”.
During a question and answer session in Hendon, north-west London, Mr Johnson said: “In a gigantic melting pot city like London you’ve got to make sure you’re absolutely vigilant 24 hours a day.”