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Community Relations: Preventing Extremism

Volume 684: debated on Monday 17 July 2006

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to provide an update on the recommendations of the “Preventing Extremism Together” working groups.

The machinery of government changes in May 2006 saw responsibility for working with Muslim communities to prevent extremism pass to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

I am clear that my new department's remit offers the opportunity to make real progress on tackling extremist ideologies. Our central policy on cohesion and faith will continue to be a key contributor to national debates and engagement, but we will be able to combine this with an extended reach into local authorities and communities to make a real difference at local level. We will continue to work to tackle disadvantage experienced by Muslim communities, but will combine this with a greater focus on enabling them, and other communities, to challenge extremism directly. Part of this work will be delivered by close engagement and partnership working with representatives of a broad range of Muslim individuals and organisations. I am keen to add new voices to a vigorous debate about how Government can support Muslim communities more effectively, while building on the successful consultations over the past year.

One of the key strands of that consultation was “Preventing Extremism Together”, the working groups for which disbanded in November 2005, although we continue to work with a number of people involved in them. I would like to inform honourable Members of a progress update on that project, which will be available later today on the department’s website at www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1500185.

The update shows that we have made clear progress on the recommendations from “Preventing Extremism Together” that were for Government to take forward, and that much of it has been made by supporting Muslim communities to deliver change for themselves. We will update the website regularly as progress develops. The update posted on the website indicates the work going on in response to all the themes raised in the report, with projects focused on Muslim women and young people, and work aimed at tackling alienation and strengthening civic structures.

The recommendations made to us by “Preventing Extremism Together” are an important part of our work with Muslim communities, but they are not the only part. By continuing to support interfaith activity, by funding grassroots projects through our £5 million Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund, and by continuing our local outreach, we will be able to empower communities to tackle these challenges head on. I will keep the House informed of progress in this area.