Mark Rowley, the UK’s top counter-terrorism officer, has criticised Muslim groups MEND and CAGE for helping to undermine the state’s fight against extremism.
The outgoing national lead for counter terrorism said in a speech yesterday at the right-wing Policy Exchange think-tank that some Muslim groups exploit grievances and isolation by:
- being equivocal in condemning acts of terrorism
- undermining efforts to safeguard the young and vulnerable from radicalisation
- spreading disinformation about national security and foreign policy
Rowley then went onto name-check CAGE for characterising the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy as an “attack on Islam.”
“Their representatives have also sought to whip up ridiculous claims that all Muslims are ‘terror suspects’ in the eyes of the authorities. And they famously described the ‘Jihadi John’ suspect as a ‘beautiful young man.’”
Rowley also took aim at MEND. He said: “Leaders of MEND have claimed the UK is approaching the conditions that preceded the Holocaust seeking to undermine the State’s considerable efforts to tackle all hate crime and making an absurd comparison with state-sponsored genocide.
“One of MEND’s former leading figures lost a libel case labelling him as ‘a hard-line Islamic extremist’ in the context of comments he made supporting the killing of British soldiers in Iraq.”
In response, Mend said they were “deeply disappointed” with Rowley’s comments.
“We wholeheartedly refute this allegation and find it deeply troubling and inaccurate,” Mend said in a statement. “We worked tirelessly with police forces in order to successfully get Islamophobic crimes recorded as a separate category of crime by around 20 police forces.
“We have worked to empower communities to report Islamophobia to the police, ensuring that crime is recorded correctly and justice is served through the criminal justice system.”
Meanwhile, Cage said that Rowley’s speech amounted to a “tired rehash of tried and failed models.”
“The fact that a police officer addressed a right-wing organisation connected to the Henry Jackson Society and the broader Islamophobia network casts doubt on the impartiality of the police and does little for their credibility and legitimacy,” Cage said in a statement.