SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Agency) – Joining forces against the Counter-terrorism bill, a galaxy of Muslims activists from different ethnic and professional backgrounds have launched a campaign against the measures that have been introduced two months ago.
The impact of the implementation of the Extremism Prevention Program, as stated by the Bill, will be “vastly counter-productive breeding the kind of alienation and grievances against the state that feeds the narrative used by radicalizers to prey on vulnerable victims,” Stop the Counter Terrorism and Security (CTS) Bill campaign warned in statement cited by Ahram Online.
The campaign, Stop the CTS Bill, was introduced by the British government last November to set new anti-terrorism measures.
The controversial measures were criticized by Muslims and rights groups as being “unjust”, warning that the new measures will turn Britain into a “police state”.
Under new “exclusion orders”, British Muslims travelling abroad to take part in the conflict in Syria and Iraq would be barred from returning to Britain, unless they agreed to be placed under strict controls.
UK Muslims would also face arrest after coming from the conflict areas in the Middle East.
Such a move “will help, not hinder, those determined to commit acts of terror,” a spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said.
Dr Shuja Shafi, the MCB’s Secretary General, warned the proposed Bill will boost the “climate of fear and victimization within the Muslim community, further weakening trust with public authorities.”
“The proposed measures will keep us neither safe nor free,” Shafi warned.
More recently, a new counter-terrorism measure that requires UK nursery staff and childminders to report toddles at risk of becoming terrorists was introduced.
The proposed legal requirement for teachers to spy on toddlers was slammed by UK educationists and rights activist.
It said such a duty “means in practice that nurseries, for example, will be expected to monitor, detect and report signs of extremism amongst toddlers if they are ‘vulnerable to be drawn to terrorism’,” MCB spokesman said.
Encouraging Muslims to join the anti-bill campaign, activists warned that the new measure will indeed curtail freedoms and increase alienation.
“For those of who claim that da’wah, or educating our youth (Tarbiyyah) physical health, or mental health of our communities is the most pressing need at this time. Please believe that nothing is more important right now than stopping the passage of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, if you wish to continue unhindered in these activities,” the Stop the CTS Bill campaign warned.
“There has never been a piece of legislation more serious than this for the future of Muslims.
“When our civil liberties are at stake and the threat from extremism and terrorism still looms large, we turn to our elected representatives to act with moral integrity and reject draconian measures that will keep us neither safe nor free,” said the petition, signed by more than 3,000 people.
British Muslims are estimated at nearly 2.7 million.
UK Muslims have repeatedly complained of maltreatment by police for no apparent reason other than being Muslim, citing the routine stop-and-search operations.
People with Asian appearance have borne the full brunt of the stop-and-search practice, which the British police claim is “intelligence-led”.
Without a clear definition off extremism, the definition would be either politicized or expanded by police, security experts warned.
“The Bill makes the government and security services the reference which define what extremism means and who or which action or behavior is extreme,” Dr Omar Al-Hamdoun, Muslim Association of Britain MAB (MAB) president, said.
“Ideas and thoughts could be shut down under the labels of extremism and the guise of preventing it,” he added.
Last week, hundreds of British Muslim imams and community leaders expressed anger after receiving a letter from a British Minister urging them to fight extremism inside mosques.
Earlier this month, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he will be seeking the introducing “more comprehensive” powers to monitor terror suspects in Britain.
Cameron said that in case he wins the next election, he will introduce a communication data bill dubbed the “snooper’s charter” that will give police a sweeping power to monitor online communications.
“Should this bill be passed, we believe it will similarly undermine trust and confidence in the belief in rights and justice on the part of the British State – as well the impartiality and trustworthiness of the judiciary, schools inspectors and the health service – all of whom will be expected to be part of Britain’s ‘thought police’,” Stop the STC Bill said.