David Cameron and Tony Blair want new law to ban ‘glorifying terrorism’ in bid to target Islamist extremists and far-Right groups
- A report is calling for a new law against glorifying terrorism to tackle extremism
- Calls for a shake-up to thwart ‘dangerous’ behaviour by far-Right groups
- The proposals could lead to the outlawing of groups such as Cage
Glorifying terrorism should be outlawed to tackle extremists, a report backed by two ex-prime ministers warns today.
It calls for a shake-up to thwart ‘shocking and dangerous’ behaviour by far-Right groups, Islamists and harmful conspiracy theorists who currently avoid prosecution.
The Commission for Countering Extremism said new criminal offences should be introduced to silence them. It received support from Tony Blair and David Cameron, who said: ‘The law needs changing.’
The proposals could lead to the outlawing of groups such as Cage, which called Islamic State executioner Mohammed Emwazi – nicknamed Jihadi John – a ‘beautiful young man’.
Hate preacher: Choudary
Extremists can currently operate ‘lawfully, freely and with impunity’ providing they stop short of directly encouraging violence or terrorism, the report found. The ‘gaping chasm’ in legislation means there is an ‘ever-bigger pool’ from which terror groups can recruit.
A new law should ban ‘praising and glorifying’ terrorism, going further than the Terrorism Act 2006, the watchdog’s 123-page report said.
It highlighted the case of hate preacher Anjem Choudary who operated with impunity for years. He is thought to have motivated 70 to 100 people to turn to terrorism before finally being convicted in 2016.
A classification system should be drawn up for extremist material in the same way police grade paedophile images by severity, the report said.
This would allow tech firms to prioritise which material should be deleted online. The new system should cover ‘extremist conspiracy theories and disinformation’, based on criteria including the harm they cause to the public.
Commission chief Sara Khan said: ‘We have charted a path the Government can take which will ensure protection of freedom of expression while restricting the dangerous activity of hateful extremism.’
She added: ‘I would not be surprised if Cage would meet the threshold for a legal framework. I think the evidence speaks for itself.’
Former Scotland Yard counter-terror chief Sir Mark Rowley, who helped draw up the report, said: ‘I have been shocked and horrified by the ghastliness and volume of hateful extremist materials and behaviour which is lawful in Britain.’
Mr Cameron said: ‘The fact that someone like Anjem Choudary was able to radicalise and poison the minds of so many people with such tragic consequences for so long without apparently breaking the law demonstrates that the law needs changing.’
Mr Blair said: ‘The balance between protecting civil liberties while remaining robust in our measures to tackle extremism is essential, and yet the evidence from this review suggests that extremists are able to operate with impunity because of a void in our legislation.’
The Home Office will consider the report’s findings.