New, Broader ‘Extremism’ Definition – Will This Impact UK’s Right to Protest?

Critics are worried that freedom of speech in the UK is under threat as the government announces it will rewrite the definition of extremists to potentially include protestors.

Government’s Plan for New Extremism Definition

The Government is set to introduce a revised definition of extremism that will be more specific and connote different types of activists with the word.

According to the Communities Secretary, Michael Gove, the new definition will add “more specificity on the ideologies, behaviour and groups of concern to support vital counter-radicalization work.”

Critics worry that the new definition of the word could have an impact on the public’s right to protest and ability to speak freely without fear of being reprimanded.

Sunak’s Public Address Warning

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently addressed the nation outside Downing Street for the first time since becoming Prime Minister, speaking of his worry about the perceived rise in extremism.

Sunak referred to the mass protests on the streets across the UK that are showing support for the people of Palestine as the Gaza Strip suffers major civilian losses.

Sunak urged police officers to “Take action” against the pro-Palestinian protestors after Tory MPs had their homes targeted for the government’s response to the conflict.

Sunak’s Response to Protests

The Prime Minister warned the public that “In recent weeks and months, we have seen a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality,” referring to the protests.

After criticism of the speech from Labour MPs, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Sunak is willing to change the definition of “Extremism” to make it include more activists.

Gove Acknowledges “Good-Hearted” Protestors

Gove insisted that although not everyone in the protests is classed as extremist, those “good-hearted” protestors need to be more alert for those looking to cause damage and disruption.

Gove said that the government needs to be more “clear about the nature of extremist organizations,” calling for a rebrand of the definition so the public understands.

Although he suggested he doesn’t “agree” with the “good-hearted” people on the marches, Gove insisted the new definition “may help some of them to question who are organizing some of these events.” Gove insisted that some of the Pro-Palestinian marches had been “organized by extremist organizations.”

Not Everyone on March “Extremist”

In an attempt to clean up his comment, Gove clarified that not everyone on the marches was labelled as extremist, “That doesn’t mean that people who have gone on them are extremist, quite the opposite,” he said. Claiming that the organizers were extremists, Gove asked the protestors, “Do you really want to be lending credence to this organization?”

Gove also took time out to criticize the popular chant from protestors “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” claiming that it wishes for the destruction of Israel.

Gove insisted the chant was from an extremist mindset and that it calls for “the end of Israel as a Jewish state,” supporting the erasure of the “Jewish homeland.”

Sacked Home Secretary’s Criticism of Chant

Other members of the Conservatives have shown concern about the chant, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was sacked from her role due to her comments about protestors. Braverman called out the chant as “anti-Semitic”, claiming that the “Islamists”, the “Extremists” and the “anti-Semites” were “in charge of Britain.”

Supporters of the chant refute this argument, claiming the chant does not wish for the end of Israel, but instead, it supports the freedom of the people of Palestine who are being killed.

The right to protest could be in jeopardy, according to some worried critics, as the government looks to clamp down on those who oppose their views on the conflict in Gaza.

The post New, Broader ‘Extremism’ Definition – Will This Impact UK’s Right to Protest? first appeared on Pulse365.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / 1000 Words.

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