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UK: Government's extremism definition is a 'smash and grab' on our human rights

In response to the Government’s new definition of “extremism”, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International’s Chief Executive, said: 

“From the Prime Minister’s disturbing Downing Street speech earlier this month, the introduction of further anti-protest measures and now the expansion of the extremism definition, it looks as if the Government is set on shrinking the space for dissenting views and the right to protest. 

“An overwhelmingly peaceful protest movement seeking an end to Israel’s mass killing of civilians in Gaza is being used by ministers to clamp down on our civil liberties - the irony is crushing and frightening. 

“This dangerously sweeping approach to labelling groups and individuals ‘extremist’ is yet another smash and grab on our human rights by a Government which has become a serial offender in this regard. 

“This attempt to stigmatise legitimate, peaceful political activity is taking us further down the road toward authoritarianism.  

“In any democracy worth the name, non-violent political activity should be protected and even celebrated as a sign that a country respects human rights and differing opinions.   

“Rather than this wholly misguided attempt to bolster the failed Prevent programme - a disastrous scheme in which Islamophobic stereotypes play a major role in referrals - the Government should recognise that real British values involve defending the rights of all political opponents to speak freely and openly. 

“We found in our research last year that the current definition is already being used to refer legitimate political activity to Prevent. This expansion will lead to further misuse and discrimination. 

“If criminality among certain groups or organisations is suspected, we already have a host of laws to deal with this. Today’s announcement is a dangerous gimmick and this whole enterprise should be abandoned.” 

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