We must win fight against extremism

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid, 2nd left, observes a one minute's silence near the Imperial Marhaba hotel in the Mediterranean resort town of Sousse, to honor the victims of a deadly beach attack.
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid, 2nd left, observes a one minute's silence near the Imperial Marhaba hotel in the Mediterranean resort town of Sousse, to honor the victims of a deadly beach attack.
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HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes

The murder of dozens of British holidaymakers on a Tunisian beach deeply shocked our nation.

This killer was not a lunatic without a motive. Inspired by the poisonous extremism of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, his execution of innocent tourists was a knowing, brutal assault.

To refer to these atrocities as crimes would be to negate the evil Islamist fanaticism, which the terrorist espoused. Just as regarding him as insane is to understate his wickedness; he was bad not mad.

The Government’s first priority in response has been to help the British victims and their families; assisting the wounded, bringing home those who lost their lives, helping holidaymakers still in Tunisia who want to return here to do so, and gathering further evidence of what happened.

The Prime Minister has spoken of a “generational struggle between a minority of extremists who want hatred to flourish, and the rest of us who want freedom to prosper”.

Our fight against Islamic extremism must be won.

At the heart of this, as Minister for Security, I am determined to do more to prevent extremist ideas taking root. Which is why we have placed a new statutory duty on all public bodies – including schools, prisons and local authorities – that requires them to look for signs of radicalisation.

We will make universities and colleges do more to combat extremism on their campuses, including stopping speakers who preach hateful Islamist views.

Recent newspaper coverage reveals that, in 2014, British universities hosted more than 100 speeches by Islamic extremists, highlighting the urgency of these measures and the scale of the change we must make.

Universities must not be allowed to confuse defending the principle of free speech with allowing extremists who poison young minds with their Jihadist ideology.

We must be more intolerant of those who flout the rule of law and despise our gentle, generous way of life. Taking on people who, claiming simple causal justifications for horror, condone terrorism by stealth, is vital and virtuous.

Our nation must be ready for the worst, which is why our security forces and emergency services have recently conducted a major training exercise, in which I played a part, to test the UK’s preparedness for dealing with a terrorist attack.

Defeating this threat also requires giving our police and security services all the tools they need: stronger powers to seize passports and prevent travel; and the measures to track extremists’ online communications. The methods of murder that ISIS use are barbarically archaic, but its methods of recruitment and propaganda use up-to-the-minute technology, so the security services must be one step ahead.

Our nation must do whatever it takes to prevent tragedies like Tunisia.

We shall defend our island, protect the British people and preserve our democratic values in the face of barbarians who wish to end them.

To echo Margaret Thatcher; “all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”