London Met police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has backed Scotland Yard Commander Mak Chishty after he called for Muslim kids to be monitored.
In a letter to Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Hogan-Howe said Commander Chishty “does not seek to criminalise the thoughts of British Muslims but to challenge early signs of extremism through dialogue within families and across communities.”
He added that: “It is neither practical nor wise for police surveillance to try to routinely reach into such areas” but if “families and communities do not help identify and confront the early signs of extremism then sadly more interventions by police may be necessary.”
Mak Chishty caused outrage in the Muslim community after he gave an interview to the Guardian in which he said there was now a need for “a move into the private space” of Muslims to spot views that could show the beginning of radicalisation far earlier.
Chishty, who’s head of community engagement for the Metropolitan police in London, said ISIS propaganda is so powerful he had to be vigilant about his own children.
He said children aged five had voiced opposition to marking Christmas, branding it as “haram.” He also warned that there was no end in sight to the parade of British Muslims, some 700 so far, being lured from their bedrooms to Syria by Islamic State.
He added that this could be shown by subtle changes in behaviour, such as shunning certain shops, citing the example of Marks & Spencer, which could be because the store is sometimes mistakenly perceived to be Jewish-owned.
But now the Met chief has now unequivocally backed his man.
In his letter to Mr Shadjareh Hogan-Howe said: “Commander Chishty is the most senior Muslim officer in the country and his unique position allows him to confront some of the most difficult issues of radicalisation.
“In so doing he has recently suggested that friends and families have a part to play in being alert to the risks of radicalisation and in confronting and talking through issues in the home where there are concerns.
“… Commander Chishty does not seek to criminalise the thoughts of British Muslims but to challenged early signs of extremism through dialogue within families and across communities.
“It seems to me that given much radicalisation of the young and vulnerable occurs in private, then Commander Chishty is correct. It is neither practical nor wise for police surveillance to try to routinely reach into such areas.
“If families and communities do not help identify and confront the early signs of extremism then sadly more interventions by police may be necessary. These are always a last not a first resort to the problems of radicalisation.
“Commander Chisty is doing invaluable work and has the support of many Muslim leaders in London and nationally. The Metropolitan Police Service will continue to work with all communities to prevent hate and extremism from taking root in our country.”
Responding to Hogan-Howe’s letter, the IHRC’s Shadjareh told 5Pillars that the Met was showing unbelievable arrogance by ignoring the very real concerns of the Muslim community.
He said: “Effectively what Bernard Hogan-Howe is saying is that he supports everything that Mak Chishty said which amounts to thought control and ridiculous assertions that not celebrating Christmas and boycotting M&S is a sign of radicalisation. And if that isn’t tiptoeing towards a police state I don’t know what is.”
He added: “The Muslim community has signed a communal letter expressing concerns about what Mak Chishty said. That letter was signed by a wide range of organisations which have expertise in this area, yet it seems to have been completely ignored.
“While the Met seems to positively engage with all other communities it seems not to care what the Muslim community thinks. That is a clear example of institutionalised Islamophobia.”