Bradford MP Naz Shah has warned that children could be branded “extremists” simply for boycotting McDonalds under new government counter-terror plans.
Families which choose not to celebrate Christmas or which shop ethically could also be targeted by tough new guidance to prevent “radicalisation,” she claimed.
The Bradford West Labour MP also accused David Cameron of turning his back on efforts to build closer community links and dialogue to tackle the extremist threat.
Instead, the revamped Prevent strategy – which came into force today – had become a “blunt hammer” which could be used to target innocent acts by young people.
According to the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, Ms Shah said: “Some children refuse to eat at McDonalds because they have researched its links to Israel’s illegal settlements. Does that mean they are going to be extremists?
“Other families won’t buy any goods that have are sourced from those Israeli settlements, but that doesn’t make them anti-Israeli – just pro-Palestinian.
“And what about families that don’t celebrate Christmas? Does that mean they have extremist views?
“British values should include developing strong views and critical thinking in children, including fighting poverty and injustice. But this is an attempt to police them, rather than build trust.”
Ms Shah spoke out as the new Prevent’ guidance – part of this year’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Act – come into force, imposing new responsibilities to halt extremist radicalisation.
Schools will have a duty of care to their pupils and staff, to stop them being “drawn into terrorism”, and to help challenge extremist ideas.
Local councils will have to make checks on the use of public buildings by after-school clubs and groups, with duties also imposed on health bodies and prisons.
Ms Shah – who helped run a Prevent project with Muslim women – also clashed with Mr Cameron in the Commons, saying: “Prevent is failing in its attempt to engage. Will he commit to a systematic review?”
But the Prime Minister replied: “I commit to engage with all communities, and we will continue to do that. I do not agree with what the honourable lady says.”