Skip to main content

Extremism and Integration

Volume 566: debated on Monday 8 July 2013

Like the rest of the House, the Government believe in challenging the forces of hate and the politics of division—from Islamic preachers of hate, to English Defence League thugs, to violent Trotskyite protesters. We are championing what we have in common and what unites us as a British nation across class, colour and creed.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. It has been said that

“extremism breeds not within communities, but in their gaps and margins. In places where the webs and safety nets of community that sustain dignity, self-worth, autonomy and solidarities fail.”

What steps are being taken to tackle that?

It is most important for us to concentrate on those things that unite us. Very early on in this Government, we took a decision to separate the Prevent strategy from integration. My Department’s role has been to try to ensure that those parts that we can celebrate, as British citizens together, work together.

In particular, we have carried out a number of initiatives, including working with inter-faith groups, schools and detached youth workers. I have been grateful for the co-operation in individual constituencies from both sides of the House in respect of our ability to recognise that people of good will can celebrate the differences that exist.

A recent report by Teesside university, following the atrocity in Woolwich, showed that between 22 May and 25 June this year there were 241 anti-Muslim attacks. What support are the Government giving to local community groups under the Prevent strategy to deal with that hate?

The most important thing that we did was establish a way of recording anti-Muslim attacks. We took on board what had been happening with anti-Semitic attacks and took some of it across. I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that those statistics include things being said on Twitter as well as actual attacks against individuals, and it is important that we have a degree of grading.

In the aftermath of the tragic and unjustified recent murder of Drummer Rigby, there were a number of attacks on mosques. I talked to the imams of just about every single one, and they wanted to be clear that the attack was not in their name. They condemned it and were looking towards greater integration within society.

Councils increasingly have to translate their documents into other languages. How does that help the integration of communities in our country?

I do not think that it does, and I say that as a sinner repented. I was leader of Bradford council and we did translate. I realised that that attempt to integrate was a process that further isolated. The one thing that does unite us is our language of English. We should do everything we can to ensure that people learn English.

Is the Secretary of State aware that in some areas of the country, including Bradford, extremist groups are targeting young people and offering to keep them safe from on-street grooming, purely as a way of promoting their disgusting, far-right views? Will he tell us what his Department is doing to support local councils to tackle the problem?

I thought it significant that the Friday before last, throughout the country, mosques read a sermon explaining the difficulties of grooming and ways in which we can tackle it. A number of councils right around the country have been helpful in tackling the issue. We have been in close contact to ensure that the true voices of the community are heard, and not that perversion.