Far-Right Violence and Online Extremism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:43 pm on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 4:43 pm, 18th March 2019

No one who has ever visited New Zealand can fail to have been struck by not only the beauty of the country, but the warm welcome one gets from its diverse people, as Sir Paul Beresford has said. On behalf of the Scottish National party, I wish to condemn the terrible evil we saw in New Zealand last week, and to send our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved and injured.

In Scotland, our Muslim community are a valued part of our society, as they are across the whole of the United Kingdom, but we must always be aware of the particular threat posed to them from far-right extremists. I am sure the Minister will agree that Islamophobia must be combated and condemned wherever it raises its head. Does he also agree that politicians, journalists and those in the public eye should always be cautious never to cross the line on free speech and fair comment to risk stirring up the sort of hatred and “othering” that can feed into the narrative of the far right?

There have been a growing number of incidents across the UK in recent years, and it was good to hear the Minister on the radio this morning and this afternoon saying that he is alive to that threat and will put resources into tackling it. I noticed that on the radio this morning the Muslim Council of Britain was very concerned to ensure that its community should get the same sort of funding as the Jewish community has received to protect its places of worship against attack, and I was pleased to hear the Minister say on the radio that protective security tacks with the threat present. It seems that he does recognise the threat, but will he confirm that he will be meeting the MCB to discuss its requests and to look at directing funds where needed?

Finally, we have seen incidents where far-right extremists have tried to intimidate and silence Members of this House who have called them out for their hate. My hon. Friend Stewart Malcolm McDonald, in particular, has suffered at the hands of far-right extremists recently. I know that the Government have been very sympathetic about that, but does the Minister agree that all of us, across this House, must stand united with our colleagues against the threat from the far right?