David Cameron: extremist ideology is 'struggle of our generation'

David Cameron

People must challenge the view that people become radicalised because of historic injustices, recent wars, poverty or hardship, David Cameron will say, describing such arguments as “grievance justification”.

In a keynote speech in Birmingham on Monday, the prime minister will set out the government’s five-year strategy for tackling extremist ideology, describing it as “struggle of our generation”.

Cameron will say “the root cause of the threat we face is the extremist ideology itself,” arguing that we need first to understand what makes Islamist extremism so attractive to people in order to prevent it.

The prime minister will also use his speech to announce that Louise Casey, the head of the government’s troubled families unit, will chair a review of how to boost opportunity and integration in the most isolated and deprived communities.

“When people say: ‘It’s because of the involvement in the Iraq war that people are attacking the west,’ we should remind them: 9/11 – the biggest loss of life of British citizens in a terrorist attack – happened before the Iraq war,” Cameron will say.

“When they say that these are wronged Muslims getting revenge on their western wrongdoers, let’s remind them: from Kosovo to Somalia, countries like Britain have stepped in to save Muslim people from massacres. It’s groups like [Islamic State], al-Qaeda and Boko Haram that are the ones murdering Muslims.”

He will continue: “Others might say: it’s because terrorists are driven to their actions by poverty. But that ignores the fact that many of these terrorists have had the full advantages of prosperous families and a western university education.

“I am not saying these issues aren’t important. But let’s not delude ourselves. We could deal with all these issues – and some people in our country and elsewhere would still be drawn to Islamist extremism.”

According to Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, at least 700 Britons have travelled to Syria and over half have since returned home, where they now pose a significant terrorism threat.

The prime minister will set out what he sees as the four main reasons that people become radicalised:

  • Extremism can seem exciting, especially to young people.
  • People can be drawn from non-violent extremism to violent extremism.
  • Extremists are overpowering other voices within Muslim debate.
  • Failures of integration allow extremist ideas to gain traction.

“We have to answer each one of these four points,” he will say.” Do that, and the right approach for defeating this extremism follows. For all our successes as multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, we have to confront a tragic truth that there are people born and raised in this country who don’t really identify with Britain.”

As part of the new integration review, Casey will look at issues such as how to ensure people learn English, how to boost women’s employment outcomes and how state agencies can work with communities to promote integration and opportunity.

Cameron is expected to say that the government must learn lessons from past mistakes, “when funding was simply handed over to self-appointed ‘community leaders’ who sometimes used it in a divisive way”.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Monday 20th July 2015 07.29 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010