Imams, priests, rabbis and other religious figures could be made to enrol in a “national register of faith leaders” under new Home Office plans to counter extremism in the UK.
The controversial strategy reportedly says Whitehall will “require all faiths to maintain a national register of faith leaders” and the Government will “set out the minimum level for training and checks” faith leaders must have to join the register.
The plans, which appeared in a draft leaked to The Telegraph and are due to be published in the autumn, also detail how the government has sought to ban individuals whose behaviour “falls below the thresholds in counter-terrorism legislation” but which “undermines British values”.
The document says registration will be compulsory for all faith leaders who wish to work in the public sector, including universities, a move which will encompass the majority of faith leaders.
The leaked strategy is critical of the police and local councils for their failure to tackle scandals such as the Trojan Horse plot to take over state schools in Birmingham, extremism and corruption in Tower Hamlets and the child grooming scandal in Rotherham.
“The police response to Rotherham and Trojan Horse was hindered by a poor understanding of isolated communities and a fear of being seen as racist. This is not acceptable,” the document states. “We will therefore ensure that the police have a better understanding of extremist behaviour.”
Extremism, according to the Home Office proposal, is defined as “the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
The Home Office declined to comment when approached by The Independent, citing a general policy that they do not comment on leaked documents.
David Cameron has previously suggested young Muslims are drawn to fundamentalist Islam in the same way young Germans were attracted to fascism in the 20th century.
Cameron said Britain faces “the struggle of our generation” in its fight against Islamist extremism.
In May, Haras Rafiq, director of the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, described the proposal as “Orwellian and totalitarian,” telling The Telegraph it would “play into the hands” of extremists.
He added: “It is very noticeable that the main Islamist groups are not really up in arms about this. They want it, because it will feed the narrative of grievance and victimhood they love.
“They will be able to use it to say, ‘look, we told you so’.”Reuse content