UK redefines extremism, Muslim Brotherhood top concern


The British government has announced a new definition of the word “extremism”, naming the Muslim Brotherhood as a top concern, amidst increasing antisemitism as well as islamophobic hate speech. As reported by Reuters on the 14th of March, Michael Grove, UK Communities Secretary, underlined the increasing challenges posed by groups on the far right, like the British National Socialist Movement, and Islamic extremism alike.

The change, states that the word extremism refers to “the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance” that aims to destroy fundamental rights and freedoms; undermine or replace the UK’s liberal parliamentary democracy; or intentionally create an environment for others to achieve those results.”

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The new definition, although not statutory and thus not legally binding, raises concerns about the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which is the country’s Muslim Brotherhood affiliate. By redefining extremism, the UK government aims to reduce the influence of groups like MAB on British muslims. This comes after a heavy increase has been identified in the number of antisemitic attacks since October 7th and the beginning of the Israeli war in Gaza. Jewish safety watchdog organization, Community Security Trust, reported a 147% increase in antisemitic incidents, while Tell Mama, an islamophobia monitoring group reported a 335% growth in anti-muslim hate crime.

Critics have argued that the new definition will not provide a comprehensive strategy against radicalization and Islamist groups within the country, but rather allow the UK government to utilize a selective approach based on its interests. Many organizations, including the Muslim Council of Britain, have heavily opposed the change, deeming it as both undemocratic and an infringement on freedom of speech. Human Rights Watch has also deemed it an attempt to silence criticism and impede democratic freedoms.

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UK authorities are expected to publish a comprehensive list of organizations of concern, with the new guidelines excluding the groups from government engagement and funding, but not outright banning or criminalizing them.

These recent changes reflect a broader dilemma in the country between the protection of liberal values and a crackdown on extremist groups.



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