Islamophobia on rise as govt anti-radicalization plan fails

© Andrew Winning
Government anti-extremism policies have been failing British Muslims as Islamophobic hate crimes continue to rise, a Labour backbencher claims.

Liam Byrne MP warned on Thursday the country could be exposed to new waves of extremism with the expected return of thousands of British-born Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters after the Iraqi Army retakes Mosul.

Byrne, who has just launched his new book ‘Black Flag Down: Counter-Extremism, Defeating ISIS and Winning the Battle of Ideas’, said the government needs to abandon former Prime Minister David Cameron’s belief that religion and extremism are linked by a simple “conveyor belt.”

Programs like Prevent, which targets children as young as three for signs of radicalization, should be “reset,” he added.

“In the vacuum, while Islamophobia spirals, British Muslims despair … Many British Muslims feel surrounded by ‘supremacists’,” the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Britain’s largest Muslim constituency, told the Guardian.

“National supremacists who declare you can’t be British and Muslim. And religious supremacists who say you can’t be Muslim and British. One lot deny Muslims their country. The other crowd deny Muslims their faith.”

“With Trump heading for the White House, it’s time for our government to move on from the neocon philosophy of David Cameron and renew a counter-extremism plan that stands a chance of working. It needs a simple idea at its heart. There is no epic clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. This is a fight between the civilized and a cult. Never forget Al-Qaeda has killed seven times more Muslims than non-Muslims,” he added.

According to charity Tell MAMA, which monitors hate crimes against Muslims, 100 mosques and Islamic buildings in Britain were targeted between May and September this year. Hate crimes, including religion-based attacks, rose by 41 percent this July, compared to last year’s figures.

“It is a shocking reflection of the growing levels of hatred and intolerance that need challenging for the sake of safer communities and for cohesion and stronger integration within our country,” the charity said in a statement.

Byrne argued that after spending time speaking to his constituents, as well as visiting Iraq and Palestine, he is “now convinced we need a new model of radicalization that reflects the fact that it is grievance, not God, that inspires many to turn to violence.”

The MP did argue new celebrations of “inclusive Englishness” would help bridge the divide between communities. His plan did, however, include a bank holiday on St George’s Day, which has been a demand of extreme nationalists and white supremacists for some time.