Michael Gove Official Cabinet Portrait, September 2021. Michael Gove Official Cabinet Portrait, September 2021. Source: Simon Dawson - No 10 Downing Street - Flickr / cropped from original / shared under license CC BY 2.0

Michael Gove’s new definition of ‘extremism’ is clearly aimed at the Muslim community and at the Palestine protests. Here we publish the statement from march organisers refuting his claims

As the coalition of groups who have been organising the national marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, we condemn Michael Gove’s statement today. His redefinition of extremism, framed as a defence of democracy, is in reality an assault on core democratic freedoms, seeking to silence dissenting voices. His statement should cause alarm to everyone truly committed to upholding democracy, and the fundamental right to legitimately campaign to change government policy.

The government has used the protests we have organised in response to Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people as a core rationale for the need to redefine extremism. Successive government ministers and pro-Israel voices have attempted to demonise those protesting as hatemongers, Islamist mobs and antisemites. The reality is that, as the police themselves have publicly affirmed, the marches have been overwhelmingly peaceful and attended by a broad cross-section of British society, young and old, of all faiths and none.

It is the government while claiming to champion democracy, that is eroding rights we are marching to protect – democratic rights at home and respect for international law globally. It is the government that is pursuing an Islamophobic agenda which seeks to confine the Muslim community to the margins of democratic society.

It is a government which has run roughshod over the rule of law, illegally proroguing parliament, illegally planning to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, and whose MPs have deliberately exacerbated racism and Islamophobia. It should stand charged of falling foul of its own definition of extremism.

We reject the description of members of our coalition as extremists who cause division and harm to the Muslim community.  No one should take lessons in what is in the interests of Muslims in Britain from a man with a track record of support for anti-Muslim policies, associations and discourse.

We call upon all political parties to condemn Gove’s statement and resist the government’s plans. We are united as a coalition and will not allow Gove’s intervention to distract us from standing in solidarity with a people confronting genocide, ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid. We call upon all of those who support us in these aims and uphold the right to protest, to join us in our next national march in London on 30 March.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Palestinian Forum in Britain
Friends of Al-Aqsa
Stop the War Coalition
Muslim Association of Britain
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

This statement was originally published on Stop the War

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