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Michael Gove Expected to Drop Plans to Put Muslim Council of Britain in List of ‘Extremist’ Groups

Exclusive: Leaked plans reveal which groups could be labeled ‘extremist’ by the Government

Michael Gove is due to set out the Government’s new definition of “extremism”

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Michael Gove appears to have dropped plans to label Britain’s biggest representative group of mosques and Islamic associations as an “extremist” group, according to draft plans leaked to Byline Times.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is due to make a statement on Thursday outlining his plans to expand the official definition of “extremism”.

Multiple reports this week suggested Gove would use the statement in order to label the Muslim Council of Britain as an extremist group due to the Government’s belief that they have failed to “repudiate or rescind past behaviours” while maintaining associations with those with “extreme” views.

Inclusion on the list would have meant the MCB would have been blocked from engaging with public authorities due to allegations that they are “undermining… British values” or institutions.

However, while a leaked draft version of Gove’s statement seen by this paper did reference several other prominent Muslim groups, including MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), CAGE, Friends of Al Aqsa, 5Pillars and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), it does not contain any reference to the MCB.

The inclusion of Friends of Al Aqsa and the MAB could have major ramifications, as the groups are part of the organising committee for the weekly protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, bringing thousands of campaigners out on the streets.

It is not clear, for example, whether the police’s engagement with the two groups over the demonstrations will have to change following their classification as extreme organisations. There are also questions over whether civil servants or even politicians would be barred from attending their events.

The statement also includes a list of prominent far-right groups, including Britain First, the British National Socialist Movement, and the Patriotic Alternative.

One well-placed Government source suggested that the MCB had been removed from the list due to fears that including them would have been a step too far, while another source suggested that including the organisation could have left the Government open to significant legal risk.

Sources suggested that the leaked statement was not the final version due to be put before Parliament on Thursday and that the full list of excluded groups may not now be announced until a later date.

Despite being apparently removed from the list, there were still suggestions that Gove, or other ministers, could use parliamentary privilege in order to single out the MCB.

Responding to the original reports, a spokesperson for the group said this week that: “To suggest that the Muslim Council of Britain would fall under arbitrary definitions of extremism is offensive, ludicrous and dangerous.

“We are a democratic organisation representing a cross-section of British Muslims. After standing accused of peddling Islamophobia, it is ironic that the governing party should lash out and accuse everyone else but themselves of extremism. We shall be monitoring developments and will seek to reserve our position legally.”

In a statement, the Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, Ismail Patel, said “Gove and the Tory party are undermining freedom of speech and fermenting cultural wars. They are encouraging Islamophobia and targeting Palestinian peace activists”.

“The only organisation being divisive and causing harm to the Muslims in the UK is the Tory party and Michael Gove”

A Government spokesperson declined to comment.

‘The Extremist Islamists are Coming! Sunak Cries Wolf to Criminalise Dissent’

The CEO of one of the organisations likely to be targeted by the Government’s forthcoming ‘extremism’ definition speaks out against its chilling effects

Selective Extremism

The Prime Minister came under fire on Wednesday after refusing to distance himself from the Conservative Party donor Frank Hester, for making extreme racist and hateful comments about Diane Abbott.

Questioned in Parliament, the Prime Minister said he was “proud” that Hester had donated to the party. A Government minister had earlier insisted that the party would be happy to accept a further £10 million donation from the businessman, despite his comments.

A spokesperson for Sunak refused to say whether Hester’s suggestion that Abbott should be shot would be caught under the Government’s new definition of extremism, but insisted that his “remorse” for his comments “should be accepted”.

They added that Hester’s donations to the Conservative Party, which made up “the most diverse ever Cabinet” was a sign that he was not a racist.

Hester has yet to accept that his comments about Abbott making him want to “hate all black women”, while calling for her to be shot, were either racist or sexist. He did however, suggest that they were rude.

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