definition of extremism michael gove

A sly move to sanction groups critical of the government

Although there has been a lot of attention given to a ‘new definition of extremism’, the latest definition is not, in fact, a new one. However, what distinguishes this latest definition is that it is:

A shift from the individual to groups

Previously, the definition of extremism centred on individuals with lawful ideas – which was still problematic – but this iteration has shifted the focus to encompass groups, including civil society organisations that embody perfectly lawful ideas.

Sanctioning organisations

Despite this latest development, there is still no legal definition of extremism.

However, this definition places restrictions on organisations as if they were proscribed. They will certainly be sanctioned: those deemed ‘extremist’ will not be able to engage with public officials or MPs.

The listing of groups is being done “through the back door” – that is via Prevent logic, which is a sly attempt to sidestep legal processes.

As with Prevent, there is no legal framework or appeals process to challenge the process of being defined as “extremist”.

Rather, groups that are proscribed must challenge a ministerial decision in the courts, an expensive and lengthy process.

Curtailing those who challenge domestic or foreign policy

Although the UK government is primarily targeting Muslim organisations through this recent definition, it can just as easily be applied to any group challenging government policy, be it at home or abroad.

This represents the strongest evidence to date that Prevent is political.

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