Guardian: The anti-Muslim drumbeat has become deafening across the western world. As images of atrocities by the jihadi terror group Isis multiply online, and a steady trickle of young Europeans and North Americans head to Syria and Iraq to join them, Muslim communities are under siege. Last week David Cameron accused British Muslims of “quietly condoning” the ideology that drives Isis sectarian brutality, normalising hatred of “British values”, and blaming the authorities for the “radicalisation” of those who go to fight for it.
It was too much for Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative party chair, who condemned the prime minister’s “misguided emphasis” on “Muslim community complicity”. He risked “further alienating” the large majority of Muslims fighting the influence of such groups, she warned. Even Charles Farr, the hawkish counter-terrorism mandarin at the Home Office, balked. Perhaps fewer than 100 Britons were currently fighting with Isis, he said, and “we risk labelling Muslim communities as somehow intrinsically extremist”.
But Cameron and his neoconservative allies are preparing the ground for the government’s next onslaught. The target will not be terrorism, but “non-violent extremism”. Next month, from nursery schools to optometrists, health services to universities, all will be legally obliged to monitor students and patients for any sign of “extremism” or “radicalisation”.
The new powers represent a level of embedded security surveillance in public life unprecedented in peacetime. We already know from the government’s Prevent programme the chilling impact of such mass spying on schools, where Muslim pupils have been reported for speaking out in favour of Palestinian rights or against the role of British troops in Afghanistan.