Published: Monday 23rd March 2015 by The News Editor
Theresa May is to appeal to Muslims to help tackle extremism as she insists Britain must no longer tolerate those who fail to respect its values.
The Home Secretary will say the freedoms on offer in the UK come with “responsibilities” to respect the way others live, democracy, equality and the rules of law.
The comments come as Mrs May sets out a broad approach for addressing what she argues is a rising level of extremism.
However, it is not thought the plans will include key measures such as statutory powers for ministers to order universities and colleges to ban extremist speakers, which have been fiercely opposed by the Liberal Democrats.
Mrs May will say extremism manifests itself in racism, anti-semitism, homophobia and sexism – but the “most serious and widespread” problem is Islamic extremism.
“Everybody living in this country is equal and everybody is free to lead their lives as they see fit,” she will tell an audience in central London.
“We are free to practise any faith, follow any religious denomination, or ignore religion altogether.
“We are free to wear whatever clothes we choose. We are free to establish our own faith schools and give our sons and daughters the best education possible. We are free to build our own churches, temples and mosques and worship freely.
“But in a pluralistic society like ours, there are responsibilities as well as rights. You don’t just get the freedom to live how you choose to live.
“You have to respect other people’s rights to do so too. And you have to respect not just this fundamental principle but the institutions and laws that make it possible. Democracy. Equality. Free speech. The rule of law. And respect for minorities.”
Mrs May is expected to stress that the “overwhelming majority” of people in Britain “accept and positively cherish” this arrangement.
“But there is increasing evidence that a small but significant number of people living in Britain – almost all of whom are British citizens – reject our values,” she will add.
“We have seen the Trojan Horse plot to take over state schools in Birmingham.
“Concerns about religious supplementary schools. Widespread allegations of corruption, cronyism, extremism, homophobia and anti-Semitism in Tower Hamlets.
“Hate speakers invited to speak at British colleges and universities. Segregation by gender allowed at universities and even endorsed by Universities UK.
“Charities and the generosity of the giving public abused by extremists.
“Examples of Shari’a law being used to discriminate against women.
“Thousands of ‘honour’ crimes committed every year. And hundreds of British citizens who have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq.
“We have been clear all along that the Government’s counter-extremism strategy must seek to defeat extremism in all its forms, but it’s obvious from the evidence that the most serious and widespread form of extremism we need to confront is Islamist extremism.”
Mrs May will make a clear distinction between followers of the Islamic faith, which is “entirely compatible” with British values, and extremists who claim there is a “fundamental incompatibility”.
“They demand a caliphate, or a new Islamic state, governed by a harsh interpretation of Shari’a law,” she will say.
“They utterly reject British and Western values, including democracy, the rule of law, and equality between citizens, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. They believe that it’s impossible to be a good Muslim and a good British citizen.”
The Tory minister will say such extremism cannot “just be ignored” or wished away, but “must be tackled head on”.
“Because where extremism takes root the consequences are clear,” she will add. “Women’s rights are eroded. There is discrimination on the basis of race and sexuality.
“There is no longer equal access to the labour market, to the law, or to wider society. Communities become segregated and cut off from one another. Intolerance, hatred and bigotry become normalised.
“Trust is replaced by fear, reciprocity by envy, and solidarity by division.”
There is also “without doubt a thread that binds the kind of extremism that promotes hatred and a sense of superiority over others to the actions of those who want to impose their beliefs on us through violence”, Mrs May will say.
Outlining a series of new proposals for dealing with the issues, Mr May will admit they raise “searching questions” that have “probably not been asked in the past for fear of being insensitive”.
“But what must not be lost amid those difficult questions is that at the centre of this strategy is the same open, inclusive and pluralistic proposition that is at the centre of our national values,” she will say.
“Government cannot act alone. Individual people, families and whole communities need help and those of you fighting the extremists deserve our support.
“So my invitation is clear – come and join that partnership. If you join us, we will do everything we can to help you.
“We will help you to stand up to the extremists by denying them the opportunity to spread their messages of hate and division.
“But to those people who do not want to join this new partnership, to those who choose consciously to reject our values and the basic principles of our society, the message is equally clear.
“The game is up. We will no longer tolerate your behaviour. We will expose your hateful beliefs for what they are.
“Where you seek to spread hate, we will disrupt you. Where you break the law, we will prosecute you. Where you seek to divide us, we will stand united. And together, we will defeat you.”
Published: Monday 23rd March 2015 by The News Editor