May incorporates Cameron's Munich speech into anti-extremist strategy

May's proposals have drawn criticism from the BMA
May's proposals have drawn criticism from the BMA

By Phil Scullion

David Cameron's rejection of multiculturalism will be incorporated into the government's new anti-extremist strategy, the home secretary has announced.

Presenting her reformed Prevent strategy to the Commons, Ms May said the UK should be "more assertive" about its values and that any groups promoting extremism would have funding removed even if it was non violent.

Any groups which did not support democracy, human rights, the rule of law and mutual respect and tolerance of different faith groups would lose funding, Ms May confirmed

The reference to Mr Cameron's controversial Munich speech, which attacked multiculturalism as a failure, suggests the Home Office is planning on taking a much tougher stance towards Islamic groups, although concrete policy details were hard to come by.

Ms May's statement to the Commons contained several party-political points, including attacks on Labour for over-spending and a distracting focus on integration.

Her use of party politics while discussing the topic led to several attacks, not least of all from shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who launched a blistering attack on the programme.

Earlier in the day, the home secretary was accused of urging doctors to break patient confidentiality with the requirements of the review.

Doctors are to be asked to help identify people they believe are at risk of being drawn into terrorism as part of the government proposals.

The idea was criticised by the British Medical Association (BMA), which said it went substantially beyond the public interest requirements for breaching patient confidentiality.

"Doctors cannot look into the future and say how someone might behave.. a doctors role is to treat the patient in front of them, not predict how the patient will behave in future," a spokesperson told the Guardian.

The re-shaping of the counter-extremist Prevent strategy includes plans for more funding for prisons programmes and a renewed focus on tackling extremist websites.

Prevent was initially launched in 2005 following the July 7th bombings, but has recently drawn criticism following suggestions that some of its £63 million budget was misdirected to hard-line groups overseas.

Muslim groups have questioned the direction of the policy, branding it outdated.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: "Sadly the government's new Prevent strategy seeks to promote the same worn out policy that has failed to achieve success and has led to alienation in the Muslim community.

"To label all Muslims who promote and practice Sharia law as extremists is a dangerous precedent which will be strongly opposed by our community because the real reasons behind this new strategy are to score cheap political points on the back of the Muslim community."

James Brandon, head of research and communications at Quilliam Foundation, told "The government are not very good at explaining how terrorism happens; they're very weak on their understanding of what extremism is and why that should be tackled.

"Their definition of Islamism is very weak so a lot of these intellectual failures at a macro level are going to affect the success of the strategy."


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