NJA Welcomes Government’s New Definition of Extremism

In response to the escalating threat of Islamist and antisemitic extremism in the UK following the October 7 terror attacks in Israel, the National Jewish Assembly (NJA) applauds the government’s proactive measures to fortify its strategy against extremism by revising its definition of extremism.

Today, the UK government announced significant revisions to its definition of extremism, alongside the publication of new engagement principles aimed at safeguarding against the legitimisation of extremist ideologies. This revised approach comes at a crucial time when the proliferation of extremist rhetoric poses a grave threat to societal harmony and security.

National Jewish Assembly Vice Chairman Laurence Julius, who is active in local interfaith and anti radicalisation initiatives, said: “This new definition of extremism has the benefit of being very simple and easy to test against. It should effectively cover all threats from extreme left, right or Islamists to the Jewish community. The wording is, however, very wide and there is the potential risk that it could be used to try and cancel legitimate freedom of expression. It needs to be embodied in Prevent.”

The updated definition of extremism, tailored to address the evolving threat landscape, provides a sharper characterisation of extremism. It explicitly identifies extremism as the promotion or advancement of ideologies rooted in violence, hatred, or intolerance, with the aim of undermining democratic institutions and fundamental rights and freedoms.

The NJA commends the government’s commitment to preventing extremist organisations and individuals from gaining legitimacy or influence through engagement with government entities. By adopting a more focused definition, the government demonstrates its dedication to preserving democratic values and safeguarding against the empowerment of extremist entities.

Furthermore, the NJA welcomes the publication of new engagement principles, which serve as guidelines for government interactions with extremist groups. These principles emphasise the importance of upholding democratic values and ensuring that engagement does not inadvertently confer legitimacy or platform to extremist ideologies.

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