European Jewish Leader Praises ‘Robust’ U.K. Counter-Extremism Bill

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The United Kingdom’s proposed Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill is a “robust response” to the threats posed by terrorism, a prominent European Jewish leader said Wednesday.

The bill, which was introduced in May and has since been the subject of legislative scrutiny and public debate, states that it “gives law enforcement agencies new powers to protect vulnerable people-including children-from those who seek to brainwash them with extremism propaganda so we build a stronger society around our shared liberal values of tolerance and respect.” The legislation seeks stronger state powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public, and to create a “new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity, following consultation.”

Dr. Moshe Kantor-president of the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella organization representing national Jewish communities in Europe-said at Wednesday’s Jewish News-BICOM Policy Conference in London that the British bill recognizes “the reality that terrorism does not exist in a vacuum and that we must look to blunt its influence in our societies.”

“Terrorists and extremists have created networks in our countries, enclaves in our cities, outposts on social media….Neither external radicalization nor internal radicalization is new, but the virulence of both has increased in recent years….Thankfully, political leaders have begun to realize the scale of the threat that we are facing,” Kantor said.

He added, “Those who aid, assist and inspire terrorists by word or action should not find shelter under the law. If they do, we need to change and tighten the law.”

Critics of the U.K. bill have cited free speech concerns, while claiming the proposal does not clearly define “extremism.”