New extremism definition attacking Muslim-led organisations is a descent into authoritarianism

In light of the UK Government’s new definition of extremism, we at the Migrants’ Rights Network are inviting organisations to endorse our statement which sets out our critique and demands. If you would like to sign the letter, please complete this form and attach your logo for publication on our website. 

The new definition of ‘extremism’ released by the Government today marks another dangerous step towards authoritarianism. The naming of organisations, including Cage, MEND, Muslim Council of Britain, is a clear targeting of Muslim-led organisations who are holding the Government to account. 

We completely disagree with this new definition because the concept of ‘extremism’ lends itself to undermining the same ‘British values’ the Government claims to uphold. Instead of targeting social justice organisations, the focus should be on tackling anti-dissent, anti-migration, anti-trans, racist and Islamophobic sentiments growing in the heart of the UK’s political discourse. 

A healthy sign of any democracy is accepting and engaging with dissenting voices. Scrutiny is fundamental to society, otherwise we risk going down the path of a totalitarian regime. However, explicitly naming organisations signals an attempt to silence them: it shows the Government wants to stop us challenging discriminatory and racist policies that target racialised and marginalised communities.

If so-called ‘British values’ were truly applicable to all, then the Government itself would fall foul of abiding by these. It is regularly found to be breaching the rule of law, for example the Rwanda plan, whilst showing an increased intolerance to communities of the Muslim faith, migrants and queer people. 

We urge for the definition to be scrapped. We will continue to stand in solidarity with all communities and organisations seeking to dismantle the oppressions they face, and doing this whilst under additional and completely inexcusable scrutiny. The fight for liberation and equality must not be silenced.

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