UK's Cameron unveils anti-extremism plan, urges internet firms to help

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 20, 2015 4:43 AM

By William James

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron set out a five-year strategy to tackle extremism in Britain on Monday, vowing to take on those responsible for radicalizing young British Muslims and demanding that internet companies do more to help.

To tackle what he called the "struggle of our generation" Cameron outlined a counter-extremism strategy designed to halt the spread in Britain of the radical ideology promoted by Islamic State militants (IS or ISIL) in Syria and Iraq.

He singled out internet companies as needing to do more to help the fight against extremism, especially among young people.

"When it comes to doing what's right for their businesses they're happy to engineer technologies that track our likes and our dislikes," he said, without naming specific firms.

"But when it comes to doing what's right in the fight against terrorism we too often hear that it's all too difficult - I'm sorry I just don't buy that."

The speech comes as Cameron is preparing to extend Britain's fight against IS overseas by courting parliamentary approval to undertake anti-IS bombing missions in Syria. Britain currently only conducts airstrikes in neighboring Iraq.

Britain's national security threat level is at its second-highest setting, meaning an attack is highly likely. Around 700 Britons are estimated to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join IS militants, some of whom have since returned.

A key aim of the strategy, to be published in full later this year, will be to combat the rise of "home-grown" extremists.

"We have to confront a tragic truth: that there are people born and raised in this country who don’t really identify with Britain," he said, adding that the ideologies espoused by IS needed to be "deglamourized".

Cameron also sought to take direct action after a spate of cases involving young Britons leaving their families to link up with IS militants they had contacted through online social networks.

The government would introduce a scheme to enable worried parents to apply directly to get their child’s passport canceled to prevent travel, he said.

Cameron warned that "strong, positive Muslim voices" are being drowned out by those who espouse the extremist ideology of ISIL, although stopping short of advocating violence.

He said he would also launch a review on how to improve social integration in ethnic minority communities.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Michael Holden)