U.K. launching broad anti-extremism strategy

Amid growing concerns about the growth of home-grown terrorism, British prime minister David Camron has announce that the government will spend millions on funding anti-extremism projects in communities and tackling online attempts to radicalize vulnerable Britons. The new funding would be used to providing direct support to groups to expand the reach and scale of their work to confront extremism. Projects will include social media training and technical assistance to enable small charities to set up Web sites. “We need to systematically confront and challenge extremism and the ideologies that underpin it, exposing the lies and the destructive consequences it leaves in its wake. We have to stop it at the start — stop this seed of hatred even being planted in people’s minds and cut off the oxygen it needs to grow,” Cameron said.

Amid growing concerns about the growth of home-grown terrorism, British prime minister David Camron has announced that the government will spend millions on funding anti-extremism projects in communities and tackling online attempts to radicalize vulnerable Britons.

Back in 2011, shortly after coming to power, Camron had scaled back similar measures initiated by the Labor government which preceded his, but he announced now that his government will invest £5 million this year, and more in coming years, to build a national network of grassroots organizations to challenge and battle all forms of extremist ideology.

RT reports that the new funding would be used to providing direct support to groups to expand the reach and scale of their work to confront extremism. Projects will include social media training and technical assistance to enable small charities to set up Web sites.

The government will also replicate the methods used by police in taking down images of child abuse.

Officials and experts in radicalization say that in the last eighteen months there had been a change in the way that extremists used the Internet to target young minds. According to recent research from the Quilliam Foundation, the counter-extremism think tank, Islamic State’s high-quality propaganda is disseminated widely by a network of supporters and sympathizers worldwide. Extremists have also increased their use of the Internet to inspire and motivate radicalizers who groom new recruits through online peer-to-peer relationships.

Cameron, who will launch the government’s counter-extremism strategy today (Monday), said:

“We need to systematically confront and challenge extremism and the ideologies that underpin it, exposing the lies and the destructive consequences it leaves in its wake. We have to stop it at the start — stop this seed of hatred even being planted in people’s minds and cut off the oxygen it needs to grow.

“Tomorrow, I will be launching the counter-extremism strategy. It sets out our new approach to tackle this poison: to vigorously counter the ideology that underpins it; to take on the violent and non-violent parts of the creed; actively supporting the mainstream voices to rise above those of the extremists; and tackle the segregation and feelings of alienation that can help provide fertile ground for extremist messages to take root.

“At the core is building a national coalition of all those individuals and groups who are united in their determination to defeat extremism and build a more cohesive society.

“We will do everything we can to support them — though my new Community Engagement Forum and with practical support and funding to tackle these deep-rooted issues. The scale of the task is immense and that is why we need everyone to play their part.”

One of the Labor government’s central counter-radicalization project was Prevent, but the Camron government cut funding for it because, it was argued, some of the funding was reaching groups with extremist views, although these groups were not themselves engaged in violence.

A Downing Street source told the Guardian that the new initiative does not represent a re-thinking of the Prevent decision, and that there had been real problems with the old system.

Officials said a major part of the new strategy would be developing a partnership between industry, police, and government to remove terrorist and extremist material online.

The Metropolitan police’s Counter-terrorism Internet Referral Unit says that since 2010 it has removed more than 110,000 pieces of extremist propaganda, and more than 38,000 pieces so far this year, with referrals from the public up 400 percent between end of 2013-14 and 2014-15.

 

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