The Home Secretary recently announced the introduction of Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs). This Government believes that extremism, in any form, has no place within the UK. As a society we must all work together to reject radicalism and encourage tolerance and respect between different faiths and communities. But the world we live in today is a fast-changing one, and despite the efforts of the vast majority of society, some people who preach extremist views are able to do so within Britain with too much freedom.
EDOs will target those people whose aim it is to encourage hateful views within our society. For too long Governments have skirted around this as an issue, for fear of offending people or communities. We have seen the damage that unchecked extremism can cause within our borders – look at Anjem Choudary, who has finally been arrested after years of inviting support to extremist groups. We shouldn’t shy away from dealing with cases like his in a much more robust way and we certainly can’t afford to just stand back and allow it to happen.
Freedom of speech is one of the most important values that we have here in Britain. But does that mean that we can let people incite violent and even murderous behaviour? I don’t believe that we should give racists, religious fundamentalists and homophobes the freedom to spread their message of hate through what are often vulnerable communities. We’ve seen how ISIL prey on disillusioned young people in Iraq and Syria to recruit members, and we must act to stop them doing the same over here. Already there are too many tragic cases where Britons have been brainwashed and have headed out to join ISIL, towards what they believe will be a better life. It’s only when their feet touch the ground in ISIL-controlled territory that the gravity of their mistake become truly clear to them and by then it’s too late. We need strong measures in place so that we can act now to prevent this from happening.
That is why I support the introduction of EDOs. Every day in the news we see places in the world where extremism is allowed to thrive, and we see it in its most shocking and brutal form. But even the most appalling cases of extremism have their roots in the quiet, unchallenged, matter-of-fact discrimination that can be found in some schools, places of worship or community centres. We need to ensure that society, particularly the young and vulnerable, are protected from exposure to such dangerous and inflammatory messages, and the EDOs will serve as a measure to discourage those who seek to divide our society in this way.
Mark Spencer is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Sherwood and is PPS to the Environment Secretary Liz Truss.
Follow him on Twitter