Search Donate

Show results for
  • News
  • Videos
  • Action Alerts
  • Events
  • Resources
  • MEND

PRESS RELEASE: Politicising dissent – MEND calls for rejection of Gove’s new extremist definition

PRESS RELEASE: Politicising dissent – MEND calls for rejection of Gove’s new extremist definition

Categories: Latest News, Press Releases

Thursday March 14 2024

The Government’s definition of extremism has been announced by Michael Gove, the Communities Secretary on Thursday 14th March.

The new definition is a blatant attack on civil liberties and free speech. It is a highly politicised and undemocratic polemic aimed at trying to exclude and ostracise peaceful and law-abiding Muslim organisations that have been critical of the government from having a voice. Labelling groups that are critical of Government policy as ‘extremist’ is a lazy and convenient way of avoiding dialogue. It is a tactic more suited to stifling dissent in authoritarian repressive regimes than used to silence those exposing UK Government complicity in the Gaza genocide. Extremism policies undermine basic freedoms and lend the state arbitrary power to sanction any dissenting citizen.

Gove stated in the commons that “Islamism is a totalitarian ideology which seeks to divide, calls for the establishment of an Islamic state governed by sharia law and seeks the overthrow of liberal democratic principles”, and added “Organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain, which is the British affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups such as CAGE and MEND, give rise to concern for their Islamist orientation and views.”

MEND CEO Azhar Qayum said, “We challenge Michael Gove to repeat his claims outside of parliament and without the protection of parliamentary privilege if he believes he can provide the evidence to back up his view that MEND has called for the establishment of an ‘Islamic state governed by sharia law’.”

Gove himself has a long track record of Islamophobic views and associations. He is a founding member of the Henry Jackson Society which promoted an anti-Muslim agenda over many years and led the government’s role in ‘The Trojan Horse’ affair. This falsely accused a number of schools in Birmingham of an ‘Islamist takeover’ on the back of a fake letter. Subsequent inquiries found no evidence of radicalisation in these schools. Given his own ‘extremist’ credentials, for him to be lecturing others as to who is or is not an extremist is an example of rank hypocrisy, and there would appear to be a persuasive argument that he is also an extremist on his own definition!

In a General Election year, it is clear that Gove and the Conservative party are pursuing culture wars, politicising extremism for electoral gain to pander to a far right electorate. Defining extremism requires a calm, measured and cross-party approach and should not be used as a political football to target marginalised groups.



Find out more about MEND, sign up to our email newsletter

Get all the latest news from MEND straight to your inbox. Sign up to our email newsletter for regular updates and events information