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New UK 'Anti-Extremism' Measures to Target Religious Freedoms: Reports

Home Office will push immigrants to learn English, embrace 'British values,' according to leaked draft

Nadia Prupis

According to leaked reports, the U.K. is unveiling new plans to counter so-called 'extremism' that will require immigrants to learn English, among other measures. (Photo: Konstantinos Kazantzoglou/flickr/cc)

The U.K. government is set to introduce new 'anti-extremism' measures targeting immigrants and religious freedoms, the Telegraph reported on Sunday.

According to a leaked draft of the Home Office's new strategy, which is due out later this month, the government will call for "a ban on radicals working unsupervised with children over fears the young could be brainwashed," the Telegraph reported.

It will also propose restrictions on Sharia courts, demand that staff at job centers identify "vulnerable claimants who may become targets for radicalization," and require immigrants working towards citizenship to learn English and absorb "British values."

The Telegraph continues:

The crackdown is part of a new "get tough" strategy to deal with the perceived growing threat to the UK from Islamist extremists.

It follows the unmasking of "Jihadi John" as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old university graduate radicalised in London, and the attacks on Paris in January by a French terrorist cell with links to Britain.

Al Jazeera adds:

The newspaper said the report expresses particular concern over the issue of "entryism," an alleged phenomenon whereby individuals with extreme views infiltrate university campuses as well as local government councils, student organizations and other bodies of influence to spread their views. The Telegraph did not specify exactly how the Home Office planned to crack down on entryism.

According to the Telegraph, the draft report states that "in the past, there has been a risk that the Government sends an ambivalent and dangerous message—that it doesn’t really matter if you don’t believe in democracy."

Refugees seeking asylum may also be rejected if they cross a "carefully defined legal threshold" of extremism.

It remains to be seen how the government would define 'British values' for citizenship applicants.

The release of the Home Office's report has been delayed for months due to questions over how strongly to word the new requirements, the Telegraph reported. Previous strategies to curb 'anti-extremism' in the U.K. and elsewhere have been criticized as alarmist and, in many ways, damaging and inefficient in solving the perceived threat.


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