Baroness Warsi: Ministers fuelling Muslim radicalisation
Categories: Latest News
Thursday June 18 2015
The Guardian reports on a warning by Baroness Warsi that radicalisation of British Muslims represents a “generational challenge” that the government is failing to tackle because of its policy of non-engagement with mainstream Muslim organisations.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday, Baroness Warsi said that the government was fuelling the radicalisation problem by “disengaging” with Muslim communities and urged ministers to reverse the policy of regarding mainstream Muslim organisations as “beyond the pale”.
She added: “Let’s first of all be very clear about finding the evidence base of what are the drivers to radicalisation. It may make for uncomfortable reading but it is only when we start to have that honest conversation that we unpick what is now becoming a generational challenge.”
Warsi said: “We continue to hear these calls for the Muslim community, quite rightly, to do more with dealing with this issue of radicalisation. But the British Muslim communities will be able to do that better with a government stood alongside it and collaborating with the community. Sadly over the last six or seven years there has been a policy of disengagement with British Muslim communities.”
She added: “It is incredibly odd and incredibly worrying that over time more and more individuals, more and more organisations are considered by the government to be beyond the pale and therefore not to be engaged with. Unfortunately the coalition government carried on that policy. It is now time to end that policy of disengagement and start speaking to the British Muslim communities, and empowering them to do more.”
Earlier this year, the former Conservative party chairman and minister in the departments of Communities and Local Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote of the “trust deficit” that had built up between Government and Muslim communities because of lack of engagement with a wider range of Muslim organisations. The policy, Baroness Warsi argued, was counter-productive and was at odds with the policy of engagement with other minority communities, such as the Jewish community, representatives of which regularly enjoyed a dialogue with the Prime Minister and Government ministers.
Baroness Warsi’s comments also point to the ideology-driven approach that has dominated the Government’s approach to counter-extremism, with its failed anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy overly focusing on religiosity as the pre-eminent driver of radicalisation over other more salient causal factors; political, social, economic and personal. The focus on religion, more specifically “Islamism” has led to a widening of the parameters of the policy, from violent extremism to “non-violent” extremism, despite evident difficulties in defining either “extremism” and “non-violent” extremism. The Government has also entrenched the implementation of the Prevent policy introducing a statutory duty in the Counter Terrorism and Security Act earlier this year.
The awaited Counter Extremism Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech last month, further adds to anxieties that the Government in rushing to legislate with little regard for evidence based analysis on the drivers of radicalisation and the blowback from poorly drafted policy.
Baroness Warsi has warned of the Government’s counter extremism policy being perceived by Muslims as a “new Cold War” against them highlighting the foolhardiness of Government’s approach and the support for it in right wing, neo-con circles.