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 Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 4:43 pm, 18th March 2019

The hon. and learned Lady makes some good points. On her point about Islamophobia, I have publicly spoken out for many years about the fact that Islamophobia exists. It exists across our communities, in all our political parties and in the communities we represent; it exists throughout Europe, not just in the UK, and we have to tackle it.

If you want a good lesson on how to tackle intolerance, Mr Speaker, I should say that one of the early successful policies of the SNP was on dealing with anti-sectarianism. The SNP recognised in Scotland that this starts with anti-sectarianism and it grows into violent extremism. I have to commend the SNP for what it did all those years ago on that, taking strong steps, certainly among the football community, to stamp it out. That is why, in the end, we have to focus upstream. We must focus in the communities and say what is not acceptable. We must embrace policies such as Prevent to make sure that everyone realises that this is ultimately about safeguarding.

On the issue relating to the community trust, the hon. and learned Lady is right. We will direct our funds as the threat changes, and we are completely open to learning every day from the attacks and plots we see, either here or abroad. We shall direct this in that way. My colleagues in government regularly speak to a range of Muslim communities, and many of us in this House will speak to our own communities in our own constituencies.

We will sense the fear that there currently is in some of those communities as a response to the attack in New Zealand and that there was even before that, given the growing rise of Islamophobia, spread through the evils of some of these chatrooms on the internet. We must, all of us, say that that is not acceptable, and neither is intolerance aimed at other people in other discourse around the world, be it in respect of Unionism and nationalism, or Brexit and remain. Intolerance is where this starts as a small seed, and it grows into hate.