The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has said that the government’s new counter-terrorism proposals will target the Muslim community and move Britain one step closer to a police state.
The comments comes after newly-elected Prime Minister David Cameron set out a string of new powers to tackle radicalisation in a counter-extremism bill which will be in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May.
According to the BBC, the bill will include new immigration rules, powers to close down premises used by “extremists” and “extremism disruption orders”.
In a statement on their website the IHRC said:
“The announcement that David Cameron is to introduce new anti-terror laws in the new Parliament signals the Tory government’s intent to accelerate Britain’s rapid descent into a totalitarian state in which the Muslim minority will be singled out for prosecution for ‘thoughtcrime.’
“The legislation, which was originally trailed several months ago but failed to secure the backing of the Tories’ then Liberal Democrat coalition partners seeks powers to close down groups and premises (including mosques) found to be propagating or promoting so-called extremist values.
“They will also furnish the Charity Commission with additional powers to root out charities who misappropriate funds towards ‘extremism and terrorism,’ and broadcast regulator Ofcom will be able to take action against channels broadcasting extremist content.
“Pressed on the Today programme how the government defined extremism, the Home Secretary Theresa May struggled to advance a definition and also identify the point at which a difference of opinion crosses over into unlawful expression.
“Coming in the wake of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act which came into force earlier this year today’s proposals are another hammer blow to civil liberties in that they will permit the arbitrary criminalisation of behaviour and thinking merely because it is deemed to be offensive by the government of the day.
“IHRC is certain that given the highly discriminatory way previous anti-extremism laws have been implemented against the Muslim community it is a safe bet that Muslims will bear the brunt of the new plans.
“The Home Secretary also flagged up last year’s so-called Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham that supposedly showed that Muslims were working to seize control of several schools in the city as part of an ‘Islamisation’ agenda. It turned out that the scandal was in fact a government fabrication to prevent Muslim school governors from exercising their legal and democratic rights to influence schooling in their communities.
“Mrs May said the new proposals would also tackle this kind of ‘entryism’ in which people seek to take over democratic institutions. Needless to say IHRC finds her remarks extremely Islamophobic, based as they are on tropes about minority communities seeking political domination, and reflective of a desire to exclude or at least limit the involvement of Muslims in public life.
“Taken together with the government’s Prevent programme to counter radicalisation, today’s proposals and the stated intention to actively promote British values, suggests the government is bent on implementing an assimilation programme to squeeze Muslims into conforming to a western, secular way of life.”
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh added: “The Counter Terrorism and Security Act moved us one step closer to a police state. The current set of proposals is the Orwellian nightmare with all the trappings, from vague concepts such as British values that the government manipulates to persecute its opponents to using thoughtcrime to silence them.
“These proposals are not about keeping the UK safe, there are plenty of laws that already do that. The Conservative government is making their agenda clear: minorities that express any difference to their notions of Britishness will be silenced.”