Here we go – we saw this coming after the latest high-profile mainstream media reporting of the latest atrocities by terrorists of the Islamic State.
Theresa May is proposing to introduce new legislation to prosecute those who express ‘extremist views’ but who are not ‘engaged in terrorist activities’.
May states that she is considering extending banning orders (glorified ASBOs) to target extremists involved in radicalisation.
The first question we ask is do we need more legislation to tackle extremists and hate preachers? It seems not.
Under Part One of the Terrorism Act 2006 (Section 1) there is the offence of ‘Encouragement of terrorism’.
The Act states:
“This section applies to a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences.”
That seems clear enough, but to make sure, the Act further defines the kind of statements that would constitute an offence:
“For the purposes of this section, the statements that are likely to be understood by members of the public as indirectly encouraging the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences include every statement which—
glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of such acts or offences; and
is a statement from which those members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated by them in existing circumstances.”
We are not lawyers, but common sense says to us that this legislation would cover extremists and ‘hate preachers’ who call for joining terrorist organisations and/or extoll the virtues of terrorist acts.
Just to make extra, extra sure, the Act provides an explanation of the terms used in Part One of the Act, with two of the most relevant definitions being:
“Convention offence” means an offence listed in Schedule 1 or an equivalent offence under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom;
“glorification” includes any form of praise or celebration, and cognate expressions are to be construed accordingly;
So now we are absolutely sure what ‘Encouragement of terrorism’ means. Logically, this should cover those who promote the extremist views which May refers to in her statement.
Another question we would ask is why the security services are not applying this law? There seems to be no obvious explanation why legislation which is already available is not used to arrest and prosecute those who have demonstrated views which encourage terrorist acts.
The current proposals of May do not impose penalties which take the offenders out of society.
We can only presume that the government is not too interested in taking those people out of society.
Even those who have been directly involved in terrorist activities abroad (which is covered by the Act) are generally not prosecuted under existing legislation and are allowed to be free within our society – with some being paid by the taxpayer in positions within the NHS and other public sector organisations.
Taking a closer look at May’s proposals it is clear that bringing in new legislation is not concerned with prosecuting those who spread terrorist or radical poison, but more about preventing criticism of government.
As we have seen many times with this government, they have introduced stealth legislation, and direct legislation, with a proposed purpose which turns out not to be the real reason.
Perhaps another reason May is using terrorism as an excuse is that current terrorist legislation is too specific and does not cover general and genuine criticism of the government. If this legislation were enacted, it would prevent anyone from criticising any aspect of government, such as welfare reforms, corrupt business deals, politician’s expenses, or many of the other things the current has come under the public spotlight for during its term in office.
It remains to be seen what the details of May’s proposals are, but we can be sure it will not be for the stated purpose or benefit of citizens of the UK.
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