A number of UK Islamic activist groups proliferate views that align with proscribed extremist groups, a report by the think tank of former prime minister Tony Blair said.
It was found that many worldviews held by these organisations, such as the importance of political Islam and distinguishing between ‘good and ‘bad’ Muslims, overlapped with extremist organisations such as Al Muhajiroun, which has had many members that have fought alongside and supported extremist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Political leaders were urged to challenge the “the corrosive narratives” promoted by activist groups such as CAGE, Hizbut-Tahrir Britain, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK and Islamic Human Rights Commission amid increased fears they could be contributing to radicalisation or the promotion extremist views.
While the report said such groups do not call for violence there were concerns their message “conveys a deep divide between Muslims and non-Muslims in the UK” and often spoke of an “inevitable conflict.”
“Divisive ideas about the place of Muslims in the West are threatening social cohesion in Britain today. These narratives come from activist groups that claim that Muslims cannot fully be part of our society, and they risk making British Muslims feel that their identity is incompatible with modern Britain,” wrote the former prime minister in a foreword to the report.
He said radical groups discouraged moderates from speaking for fears of abuse and delegitimisation which then “skews discourse, making fringe views appear more dominant”.
“Often, when people think of this challenge, they focus entirely on violent jihadi groups. Yet as this report shows, many of the central ideas that British Muslims are hearing today from some activist groups are worryingly similar to the ideology of violent extremist groups. To succeed in our struggle against extremism, we must do more to counter the core ideas that fuel it,” he added.
“This isn’t about violent extremism, but about sowing division – this ‘us versus them’ rhetoric is becoming increasingly visible across our society, including from the far-right,” said Azmina Siddique, advisor at the Tony Blair Institute.
The report urged politicians to pull together to confront the view that co-existence is impossible. It also warned there were risks the far-right could be empowered by mischaracterising extremists views as representing all Muslims.
CAGE, an organisation set up to support those empowered by the War on Terror, have previously attracted controversy over their links to Al Qaeda preacher Anwar Al Awlaki.
Hizbut-Tahrir Britain has been accused of anti-western and anti-Semitic views.