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400 imams slam new definition of 'extremism' targeting UK Muslims

Protesters in London calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Muslims and many others in the UK fear the proposed definition of extremism could stop legitimate protest.

More than 400 imams and religious scholars have denounced the recent definition of extremism proposed by the British government, which singles out various Muslim organizations.

Right-wing communities secretary Michael Gove last week unveiled a controversial redefinition of “extremism” which solely targets more than 3.5 million British Muslims and the Islamic faith.

Gove specifically highlighted several Muslim organizations, such as the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and Cage, stating that the government intends to scrutinize them under the new definition due to their "Islamist orientation."

In a joint letter, the imams wrote that Gove has a history of targeting Islam and Muslims under the label of “Islamism” and is known for campaigning against Muslims in association with anti-Islam racists and Islamophobes.

"We note that the discourse of 'extremism' relies on the faulty and academically baseless neoconservative notion that ideology is a cause of political violence," the letter read.

"We observe that Gove has a history of targeting Islam and Muslims under the label of 'Islamism'.

“We further observe that Gove has deep connections with pro-Israel lobbies that propagate Islamophobia and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories,” it added.

“It appears the underlying motivation behind this announcement is the dissatisfaction among neoconservative, pro-Israeli figures within the Government towards legitimate activism opposing Israeli and Zionist aggression against Palestine, notably, Gaza."

The imams and scholars also expressed their concerns regarding Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s alleged dedication to fostering unity with the Muslim community.

They said the government's actions indicate a preference for divisive strategies rather than sincere dialogue and involvement.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which is the largest organization representing Muslims in the UK, expressed its apprehension last week regarding the potential targeting of certain affiliated organizations under the proposed definition.

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