26 May 2013
UK Home Secretary Theresa May has called for new counter-terror measures to combat extremism in the wake of the Woolwich murder. Though working under the assumption that the Woolwich murder was a lone wolf incident, Mrs. May warned that potentially thousands of people across the UK are at risk of becoming radicalized.
Among the proposals suggested by the Home Secretary was a closer monitoring of radicalization materials available through the internet. A bill currently in parliament, the so called “snoopers’ charter” would expand the government’s ability to use court orders to block sites containing radicalization materials. Said Mrs. May, “There has been discussion of a greater use of court orders to block some sites, but it will be difficult to decide whether responsibility will lie with the Home Office or internet service providers.” Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has voiced his objections to the scope of the bill and said that he will only allow small measures to be passed. Similarly, Yvette Cooper, the Labour Party shadow home secretary, has agreed in principle that government security apparatuses may need more authority, but that changes should be limited.
The Home Secretary also confirmed that Prevent, the government’s counter-terror strategy, will be reviewed in light of recent events. It is thought that the new review will redirect counter-terror efforts to countering radicalization on university campuses, reversing a trend concerned with protecting free speech. For its part, the Muslim Council of Britain supports granting security services the authority to combat extremism and prevent future acts of violence, but urged the government to consult with Muslim groups to ensure that the new measures don’t prove detrimental to the Muslim community. A statement released by the council read in part, “We must be vigilant and ensure we do not inadvertently give into the demands of all extremists: making our society less free, divided and suspicious of each other.”