Published On: 14 March 2024Tags: , , ,

The UK government has today introduced a revised definition of extremism, targeting groups promoting violence, hatred, or intolerance.

While not criminalising such groups, they will be denied government funding and access to officials.

Critics have expressed concerns over potential threats to civil liberties, while the government has stressed the need to combat extremism effectively. The full list of specific groups targeted were not disclosed, but Islamists and neo-Nazis are likely candidates.

This revised definition aims for clarity and precision in identifying extremist behaviour. Despite reassessment provisions, challenges through judicial review have raised apprehensions. This move by the government has sparked debates over balancing security measures with civil liberties, and the shaping of the UK’s approach to extremism.

The Race Equality Foundation response to the government announcement on extremism:

The Secretary of State’s new definition of extremism is worrying. It’s urgent that we address this. Rushing into this definition risks dividing our society further, instead of keeping people safe.

It’s troubling that even the government’s own independent reviewer of state threat legislation has criticised this plan. They say it could unfairly label people as extremists without proper checks. The fact that ahead of unveiling the new definition, a chorus of criticism was sparked from across party lines, should be a warning that this definition is problematic.

Civil liberties advocates, community groups, and Members of Parliament have all raised concerns about the potential ramifications of this approach. This revised definition could actually worsen community tensions rather than smooth them. We must urgently act together with effective leadership on this issue. Our civil liberties and community cohesion depend on it.