Saturday, 5 November 2011

Nick Clegg on extremism

Very interesting to see the Jewish Chronicle's (JC) report of Nick Clegg's commendable comments on how best to counter extremism (http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/57759/clegg-fosis-has-failed-challenge-extremist-ideologies), in a speech the other night. "Engage to change, yes, endorse and fund, no" about sums it up.

JC quotes him as saying in the speech:

"...when individuals and groups express attitudes that are hostile to Jews - Muslim and non-Muslim alike, that cannot be tolerated.

"And we need to be tough and smart in our approach. I've always believed (in) the general principle that you don't win the fight by leaving the ring, you don't walk away from the battlefield and let bigots spread hate unchallenged. You engage, confident in the power of argument, confident in the power of liberal values to defeat prejudice. Liberalism is muscular, it's not passive.

"I will always defend the right of ministers to take the fight to those who wish to divide our society.

"But of course there are limits. Some organisations we have no choice but to shut down. If we (are) concerned enough about their activities we will, as a last resort, consider proscribing them. We won't provide funding for groups who advocate intolerance, and engaging to change is not the same as endorsing.

"To give you an example, we recently cancelled a recruitment fair aimed at increasing applications by Muslims to the civil service. The proposed partner organisation was the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis), an umbrella organisation which has failed to challenge sufficiently terrorist and extremist ideologies.

"If ministers want to meet that organisation, setting out strongly the standards we expect, I'm all for it, but am I willing for Her Majesty's Government to treat them as a credible partner? Absolutely not. Engage to change, yes, endorse and fund, no."

The background to this story about Fosis is at: http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/57198/theresa-may-blocks-islam-group-jobs-event. Obviously, one supports measures to encourage black and minority ethnic people (Muslims very much included) to apply to join the civil service - that's not the issue. The issue, as Mr Clegg says, is that government will not spend our taxes funding and endorsing "an umbrella organisation which has failed to challenge sufficiently terrorist and extremist ideologies," be that organisation Jewish, Muslim, Christian or anything else.

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