Recently a group called the Scholars of Dewsbury contacted me about the counter terrorism bill currently before Parliament.
They complained that it “seeks to alienate… the Muslim community” and is for “party political gain”. Such claims are irresponsible and wrong.
This is what I said to them:
“The UK faces an unprecedented threat from people going to Syria to join ISIS and then returning to the UK intending to kill. The purpose of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill is to stop this.
“The Bill may impact most on young British Muslims. Young British Catholics, Anglicans and atheists have not swelled the ranks of ISIS.
“Those who have left the UK and gloat on social media about jihad purport to be Muslims. But to criticise the Bill for being somehow anti-Muslim is to conflate two separate matters.
“Firstly is there need for legislation to protect the UK?
“You say not but you know that returnees have recently admitted planning attacks in the UK. You are aware of the content of social media and you have nothing practical to say about how this immediate threat can be addressed without the Bill. You suggest existing legislation is sufficient, but you do not say how.
“I prefer the advice of the security services who say that the Bill is vital.
“Secondly might those affected by the Bill be more likely to be Muslim?
“Your group appears to lack any appreciation of the fact that an absence of credible, relevant leadership within the Muslim community in the UK has contributed significantly to the opportunity for radicalisation amongst this minority of young people.
“Rather than moaning about the potential effects of the Bill, ask what you can do to make the provisions of the Bill unnecessary. If community leaders cannot prevent the flow of those who want to kill, this legislation will do it for them.
“The Bill was proposed by the Coalition Government and supported by the Labour Party. It has all-party support. At both the Second and Third Readings there was not even a call for a vote.
“Your claim that Muslims do not have the same ‘level of protection in law as other sections of society’ is wrong. For it to be advanced on behalf of a group that refers to its members as scholars is beyond disappointing.”