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Government's Counter-Extremism Strategy 'flawed'

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Issued by Christian Legal Centre


News Release
For immediate release
19 October 2015

Government's Counter-Extremism Strategy 'flawed'

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, has issued the following statement in response to the publication of the government's Counter-Extremism Strategy:

"The government's Counter-Extremism Strategy betrays a dangerous blindness to the Christian basis of 'British values' and a naivety about the nature of Islamic radicalisation.

"The government is right to recognise the danger that Islamic radicalisation poses to freedom but the government's response poses dangers of its own.

"The strategy as a whole is incoherent. It states, for example, that extremism disruption orders will not prevent people from expressing their religious beliefs, yet it is clear elsewhere in the strategy that the censoring of certain religious beliefs is exactly what the government wants to achieve.

"This exposes a fundamental problem of the strategy. It will not name the specific religious beliefs that it wants to quash. A fundamental principle of good law-making is to 'name the mischief' as narrowly and carefully as possible. This strategy falls well short of that standard.

"The prime minister and the home secretary trumpet the importance of defending 'British values' but without either a clear definition of what these are or a compelling account of where they come from.

"The mere assertion of 'British values' will prove woefully insufficient in tackling a threat of the magnitude of Islamic radicalisation.

"Principles such as the rule of law, equality before the law and the dignity of the human person have arisen from a Christian framework and only the re-emphasis of a Christian framework will secure them. Yet the government is unwilling to acknowledge that.

"So, this strategy will prove kind in the face of those to whom it should be stern and stern in the face of those to whom it should be kind.

"We remain very concerned, for example, by the proposals for 'extremism disruption orders'.

"The definition of extremism, and especially 'non-violent extremism', remains dangerously vague and open-ended. Despite the protestations of government ministers, it casts the net far too wide.

"The severe curtailment of a person's civil liberties could hang on this definition. It cannot possibly be left so vulnerable to future interpretation and manipulation.

"At the Christian Legal Centre, we have already seen a number of Christians penalised for expressing mainstream Christian beliefs, such as the fact that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"Today's proposals don't make Britain a safer place for them but a more dangerous one.

"In its current form, this strategy represents a major challenge to the freedom of Christians and many others." 





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