Mon, Oct 19, 2015 - Page 6 News List

British to combat ‘poison of extremism’

UNITED FRONT:Prime Minister David Cameron said that the challenge required a ‘national coalition’ of those who are committed to building ‘a more cohesive society’

AFP, LONDON

British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday pledged £5 million (US$7.7 million) to root out the “poison” of militant groups like the Islamic State that target alienated and vulnerable people in British communities.

The funds are to support local initiatives, campaigns and charitable organizations this year in a so-called “national coalition” against radicalization.

“We need to systematically confront and challenge extremism and the ideologies that underpin it, exposing the lies and the destructive consequences it leaves in its wake,” Cameron said.

“We have to stop it at the start — stop this seed of hatred even being planted in people’s minds and cut off the oxygen it needs to grow,” he said.

The pledge came on the eve of the launch of the Conservative government’s counterterrorism strategy, which is also to include a broader crackdown on content online.

The strategy is widely expected to include closer working between Internet companies and police to remove online propaganda, using systems employed against child abuse images.

There is also set to be a clampdown on ideologies infiltrating prisons and universities, and incentives for schools to integrate pupils more effectively.

The new strategy will set out “our new approach to tackle this poison,” Cameron said.

The plan is to target “violent and non-violent” ideologies, support mainstream voices, and address the segregation and feelings of alienation that provide “fertile ground” for radicalization.

The prime minister warned that the scale of the challenge was “immense.”

“At the core is building a national coalition of all those individuals and groups who are united in their determination to defeat extremism and build a more cohesive society,” he said.

“We will do everything we can to support them — through my new community engagement forum and with practical support and funding to tackle these deep-rooted issues,” Cameron said. “The scale of the task is immense and that is why we need everyone to play their part.”

The strategy is also to establish a joint industry and government group to tackle the proliferation of online content that is deemed harmful.

According to research by the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based think tank, the Islamic State produces 38 unique pieces of high-quality propaganda every day — which spread on social networking Web sites and target the militant group’s sympathizers and supporters around the world.

“The past 18 months has seen a big change in the way that extremists use the Internet to target their radical ideology directly at young minds,” the British government said.

Cameron earlier this year vowed to “de-glamorize” Islamic State militants and clamp down on those who espouse similar ideologies.

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