Michael Gove names the far-right and Islamist organisation being assessed for extremism

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Michael Gove names the far-right and Islamist organisation being assessed for extremism

The British National Socialist Movement and Patriotic Alternative groups, and the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage and MEND are being assessed for extremism, the Communities Secretary confirms

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Michael Gove and Angela Rayner, speakers at the HMDT commemoration
Photo: Justin Grainge
Michael Gove and Angela Rayner, speakers at the HMDT commemoration Photo: Justin Grainge

Michael Gove has named far-right and Islamist organisations he said were a cause for concern under the government’s new extremism definition.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Communities Secretary pointed to the far-right British National Socialist Movement and Patriotic Alternative groups, while naming the Muslim Association of Britain as “the British affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood” along with Cage and MEND as the three Islamist organisations.

He told MPs:”We will be holding these, and other organisations, to account to assess if they meet our definition of extremism and will take action as appropriate.”

Gove added:”Organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain and other groups such as Cage and Mend [Muslim Engagement and Development] give rise to concern for their Islamist orientation and views.”

He said neo-Nazi groups such as the British National Socialist Movement and Patriotic Alternative would also be assessed.

He added: “We are in no way intending to restrict freedom of expression, religion or belief, but the government cannot be in a position where, unwittingly or not, we sponsor, subsidise or support in any way organisations [or] individuals opposed to the freedoms we hold dear.

“I’m sure that we would agree that organisations … who promote neo-Nazi ideology, argue for forced repatriation, a white ethno-state and the targeting of minority groups for intimidation, are precisely the type of groups about which we should be concerned and whose activities we will assess against the new definition.

“The activities of the extreme-right wing are a growing worry, the targeting of Muslim and Jewish communities and individuals by these groups is of profound concern requiring assertive action.”

But earlier in an interview with Radio 4’s Today programme he said chanting pro-palestinian slogan “From The River To The Sea” would not be classed as extremist on its own.

He said that “a single use of a particular phrase, no matter how offensive you or I might think it is, would not” under the newly announced definition be classed as extremism.

Gove added:”What we’re looking at is an ideology, a pattern of behaviour, and a specific set of beliefs and actions.”

Questioned later in the Commons about the leaking of these names, along with other groups to the media in advance of his Commons statement on the new definition of extremism, Gove said an inquiry was now on-going looking at how this had happened.

Assessing developments in this country, especially after the October 7th Hamas terror attack in Israel, Gove said the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has been working with local authorities, civil society and faith groups in areas where social cohesion is most under strain, to de-escalate tensions and explore the most constructive support we can offer”.

He said his department had been told about widespread “unease” over safety and security in some organisations, and that some councillors have even been “threatened with violence”.

Gove said this is the “chilling effect” of these extremist groups on our local democracy.

Responding for Labour, shadow communities secretary Angela Rayner said: “From the outset when it comes to national security, the threat of radicalisation and the toxic scourge of islamophobia, Neo-Nazism, antisemitism or any other corrosive hatred – the whole House can, and should, work together.”

Gove also praised the work of the independent antisemitism advisor Lord Mann as “outstanding” following “rumours” he was about to sack hum.Board president warns Gove it would be ‘a retrograde step to dismiss Lord Mann’

But there were concerns raised from the backbenches by MPs from all parties over the scope of the definition.

In a joint statement, Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development), Cage, Friends of Al Aqsa, 5Pillars and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) warn that freedom of speech in the UK is under threat by this new definition.

“This new extremism definition is a solution looking for a problem. It attacks one of the cherished cornerstones of our pluralistic democracy – that of free speech,” they said. “Anyone, regardless of faith or political colour should be free to criticise the government of the day without being labelled as ‘extremist.”

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