Confront terrorism by backing freedom: the Muslim Council of Britain calls for a re-think on the proposed Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

7th January 2015

  • Bill significantly curtails civil rights and is unlikely to be effective
  • Terrorism can only be defeated by more freedom and less fear
  • The Muslim Council of Britain calls for Bill to be revisited after the General Election following extensive consultation amongst communities

The Muslim Council of Britain today called on fellow Britons to urge Parliamentarians to vote against the government’s proposed Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. We condemn and are committed to challenge terrorism firmly. However, the government’s proposals to curtail freedom will help, not hinder those determined to commit acts of terror.

Due for a third reading in the House of Commons this week, the Bill has already been criticised by human rights organisations for significantly curtailing civil rights.

Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Rather than celebrating this charter of liberties, our government is curtailing hard-won freedoms won over time since then through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. The proposed legislation imposes a statutory duty on public authorities – including nurseries, schools, universities, optometrists, NHS trusts and local councils – to prevent terrorism. In practice this means 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’.”

“Whether it is in mosques, education or charities, the perception is that all aspects of Muslim life must undergo a ‘Prevent compliance’ test to prove our loyalty to this country. The proposed Bill will add to this climate of fear and victimisation within the Muslim community, further weakening trust with public authorities.”

“Confronting terrorism is a challenge we all face. But for too long, successful counter-terrorism strategies have been thwarted by knee-jerk and ill-thought-through considerations. The proposed measures will keep us neither safe nor free.”

“We urge our elected representatives to challenge terrorism by fostering more rather than less freedom. Policymakers should return to the drawing board to develop evidence-based proposals that do not target any one community and address the growing threat of far-right Islamophobic groups across Europe. Furthermore, legislation should be based on extensive consultation with communities affected and impacted by the legislation and not be rushed through based on the short-term imperatives of an election timetable.”

[Ends]

Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

For further information please contact:
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330 London E1 2WJ
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079
[email protected]

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