SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Britain plans to classify “Islamist extremism” as a distinct ideology, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday, as part the government’s response to the murder of a soldier on a busy London street.
Cameron said he would implement recommendations he had received from a task force he set up after the murder of Lee Rigby in May, to try to stop people being radicalised by “hate preachers”.
Two men are on trial for the killing. A court heard that one of them said it was an “eye for an eye” and revenge for what they considered to be Britain’s wars against Muslims. Both have pleaded not guilty.
“This summer we saw events that shocked the nation,” Cameron, who is in China on a trade trip, told reporters.
“These tragedies were a wakeup call for government and wider society to take action to confront extremism in all its forms, whether in our communities, schools, prisons, Islamic centres or universities.”
“Islamist extremism” would, for the first time, be classified as a distinct ideology to guard against it being confused with traditional religious practice, he said.
Cameron wants to tackle violent ideologies that claim Islamic justification but by doing so in a way that does not alienate Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims.
The new definition would make it clear that “Islamist extremism” was a distorted interpretation of Islam that betrayed the religion’s principles and tried to sow division.
Britain will also draw on techniques it has used to fight online pornography to make it easier for people to report material deemed extremist and work with Internet providers to create filters to allow people to block such content.
Officials said the police could be given new powers to target “extremism” and that the government would consider introducing a new type of ban to outlaw radical groups.
“There are just too many people who have been radicalised at Islamic centres, who have been in contact with extremist preachers, who have come across material on the Internet who haven’t been sufficiently challenged,” Cameron said.
“I want to see an end to hate preaching in Britain.”
Editing by Robin Pomeroy