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Shakeel Begg, described in court by a judge as “an extremist Islamic speaker who espouses extremist Islamic positions”, has established himself as an influential figure within numerous public bodies and groups – even after the ruling, where he lost a libel case against the BBC.
A new Henry Jackson Society report, Extremism in the Community: The Case of Shakeel Begg, has found that Begg firmly entrenched himself within numerous community groups, and has been active even since he was declared to be an extremist in court. He has also continued to associatewith senior politicians, including the leaders of major British political parties.
These revelations should serve to justify the Judge’s comment that “Begg is something of a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character.” He has been able to continue presenting a public face of moderation and acceptability. Searching questions as to how his activities could have been prevented must now be asked. It is clear that educational organisations are failing to meet the requirements of the Prevent duty. Report author and Henry Jackson Society Research Fellow Tom Wilson said:
“The government has recognised the necessity of combatting non-violent extremism, yet it is questionable whether that is actually happening effectively on the ground. The Lewisham case shows how those who promote extremism are still being able to infiltrate public services and community groups. This allows them to mainstream their extremism, legitimise themselves publicly and exert their influence throughout British life. Those working in the public sector need to understand their duty to prevent this happening, while leaders in community and interfaith groups must start taking the threat from extremism far more seriously.”
Notes to Editors:
The Henry Jackson Society is a think tank and policy-shaping force that fights for the principles and alliances which keep societies free – working across borders and party lines to combat extremism, advance democracy and real human rights, and make a stand in an increasingly uncertain world. Henry Jackson Society research and events provide key analysis and insight to policy-makers and the media.
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