Prime Minister David Cameron will today issue an important warning about the dangers of “quietly condoning” Islamist extremism.
Acknowledging the limitations of police and security services in stopping individuals determined to travel to Syria and Iraq, he will urge families and communities to play a greater role in challenging the allure of Islamic State (IS) and other jihadist groups. He will also point out that criticism of the police and security services for not doing enough is deflecting attention away from this core problem.
Prime Minister Cameron is right to:
- argue that non-violent extremism is an incubator for extremist ideas. This was explicitly identified in the Government’s Prevent strategy of 2011, for which HJS researchers’ work was extensively cited
- recognise that the government and its agencies need more help from British Muslim communities and broader civil society to challenge the attractiveness of IS and related ideology
Recent HJS interviews with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit and West Yorkshire Police found that a key part of Prevent is building trust and confidence with British Muslim communities – and, as Prime Minister Cameron suggests, being prepared to have difficult and open conversations about the prevalence of extreme and intolerant beliefs.
HJS research has a long track record of showing that Islamist ideology is a fundamental component of radicalisation. The threat from IS remains severe and there must be an intensified, multi-pronged approach to defeat it, which will have to include political, ideological and military components.
HJS Homeland Security Fellow Hannah Stuart commented:
“The Prime Minister’s speech should not just be seen as a challenge to British Muslim communities, but also as an invitation to work alongside the government, local authorities, education and other sectors to safeguard young people and counter extremism in all its forms.”
HJS Research Fellow Emily Dyer added:
“The recent case of the Bradford sisters and their families shows that there is a limit to what the police can do to prevent people traveling to Syria. We need to recognise that the problems start at home and that responsibility ultimately rests with the individual, their families and those radicalising them; not the state.”