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ASBOs and extremism

ASBOs and extremism

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday February 19 2014

Memphis Barker in a contribution to The Independent’s Independent Voices blog reflects on the ASBO imposed on Jordan Horner, a member of the so called ‘Muslim patrol’ who harangued passersby in east London last year with his bizarre take on public morality.

Barker, defending the application of the ASBO against citations of free speech curtailment, argues “I would place the threat posed by Islamic extremism above the erosion of a democratic principle that need not be treated as a matter of “either, or”.”

Such ambiguity in defending free speech might well have been useful at the time of hysterical reactions to the proposed legislation on incitement to religious hatred. British Muslims who sought legal protections on par with groups protected under incitement to racial hatred were faced with monumental opposition led by free speech campaigners who derided the very possibility of curtailing incitement against religious believers under the guise of the right to ridicule of religion. The matter then was presented as ‘either, or’ with proposed protection for religious groups equal to legal protection for racial groups seen as a worthy sacrifice in defence of a democratic principle. And yet placing the threat posed by far right extremists who exploited the loophole in the law to popularise anti-Muslim prejudice got barely a look-in in the debate.

Barker goes on to say “But the people who suffer from the ‘speech’ of Islamic extremists – be they victims of terrorism, or Muslims facing an unwarranted backlash – might well be glad that the state is flexing its muscle.”

Since curtailment of civil liberties from the raft of anti-terrorism legislation brought to statute in recent years has hit British Muslims particularly hard, whether stop and search on the streets or at ports and airports across the UK, and the new measures, including the ‘anti-extremism ASBOs, in the policies advanced by the Government Taskforce on Tackling Radicalisation, Barker need not be so sure that Muslims will be “glad that the state is flexing its muscle”.


With the considerable amount of media attention given to the ‘Muslim patrols’ and the provocative antics of similar groups like Muslims Against Crusades, British Muslims would take greater solace in a commitment by Government to ‘flex its muscles’ and review the effectiveness of the incitement to religious hatred legislation. At least, when faced with ‘an unwarranted backlash’ they would have the law on their side.


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