The Henry Jackson Society strongly supports Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment to challenging extremism, to be laid out in a major speech today. Tackling the ideological roots of Islamist extremism is a central plank of the government’s “full spectrum response” to the recent series of terrorist attacks directed or inspired by Islamic State, and today’s speech paves the way for a long-awaited Counter-Extremism strategy, expected later this year.
HJS research has a long track record of showing that Islamist ideology is a fundamental component of radicalisation. The Prime Minister is right to recognise that countering the growing appeal of jihadist ideology is a generational struggle and that the battle for hearts and minds is as important within British society at home as it is in conflict zones abroad.
HJS Research Fellow Hannah Stuart commented:
“It is encouraging to see a focus on challenging Islamist ideology as well as how this relates to issues of identity and integration, which have gone unaddressed for too long.
“Today’s speech rightly challenges the prevalence of conspiracy theories surrounding counter-radicalisation efforts. In particular there is a growing misperception that the Prevent strategy is about spying, which has been deliberately fuelled by extremist groups and individuals many of whom continue – wrongly – to be seen as representative of Muslim communities.
“For long-term counter-extremism measures to work, the government needs to gain – and hold – the trust of Muslim communities. Today’s speech is a good start, but must be backed up by robust and fair policies.”