How to define and tackle Islamist extremism in the UK

Maaha Elahi, Julian Hargreaves 27 Dec 2022

Keywords: counter-terrorism, definition, extremism, Islamist, policy

This article presents a legal and public policy analysis of Shakeel Begg v British Broadcasting Corporation, a British libel case brought before the High Court in 2016. Begg v BBC provides a lens through which current debates on extremism and counter-extremism in the UK may be analysed. More specifically, the authors use their analysis of the case to address criticisms levied against the UK Government’s counter-extremism strategy, including the conceptualisation and definition of “Islamist extremism”. The article offers two main contentions. First, that the judgment in Begg v BBC has been undervalued by politicians and policymakers in the UK, as well as by scholars, journalists and other commentators. Second, that Lord Justice Haddon-Cave’s judgment in Begg v BBC provides a useful framework for those wishing to define, identify and tackle Islamist extremism, and extremism of any kind, in the UK and elsewhere.

Related Readings:

Paulussen, C., and L. van Waas. UK Measures Rendering Terror Suspects Stateless: A Punishment More Primitive Than Torture. Perspectives The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 5 June 2014.

Schmid, Alex P. (ed.) Handbook of Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness (The Hague, NL: ICCT Press) 2020. Käsehage, N. Chapter 11: Prevention of Radicalization in Western Muslim Diasporas

Eijkman, Q., and B, Schuurman. Preventive Counter-Terrorism Measures and Non-Discrimination in the European Union: The Need for Systematic Evaluation. The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism,  2 July 2011

Wittendorp, S. Do We Really Understand What the Comprehensive Approach is All About in Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Radicalisation? Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 25 April 2018