The leader of the Conservative Group in Tower Hamlets Cllr Peter Golds has welcomed the Prime Minister David Cameron’s five-year plan to tackle extremism by separating dangerous Islamist elements from the mainstream Muslim community.
In a speech that has resonance in Tower Hamlets, Mr Cameron said he wanted to bring to an end to ethnic minority enclaves and to “look again more broadly at how we can move away from segregated schooling in our most divided communities”.
He said he wanted communities to shun extremist elements and feel no liberal compunction about closing down avenues where violent messages could find favour.
The Prime Minister called the challenge Islamist extremism poses the “struggle of our generation” and a new Extremism Bill will include “narrowly-targeted” powers to tackle “facilitators and cult leaders” and stop them “peddling their hatred”, said Mr Cameron.
In response, Cllr Peter Golds said: “A number of major issues the Prime Minister raised are ones we face in Tower Hamlets. As well as the much publicised problem of school children travelling to Syria, we have too often seen taxpayers’ money being wrongly allocated to organisations that follow a divisive agenda.
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“I particularly welcome making the use and teaching of English more widespread, strengthening Ofcom to monitor extremist TV and radio stations as well as steps taken to prevent social housing becoming exclusively focussed on a single community.
“We have seen too many instances of academic institutions not taking steps to promote integration. What starts as a segregated meeting room, can end with the promotion of extremism.
“The Prime Minster has also promised the right of parents to confiscate passports of their children if they fear they will travel abroad to join extremist groups.”
Meanwhile, in the House of Commons, education secretary Nicky Morgan said that school summer holidays represented a vulnerable time for children when they were more likely to go join Islamic State in Syria.
She said: “We will take all action, indeed we have done by issuing guidance to schools but also working with other authorities to make sure that young people, we know where they are, and that we work with parents and communities to make sure they are not going abroad unnecessarily.”