HOME AFFAIRS – UN-ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS – 7 November 2007

Dr Julian Lewis: One of the good things that the Government have done, although they have not said so explicitly, is that they have stopped using terminology such as “Muslim fundamentalism”, “Islamism” and “Islamic extremism”. That is a good move, because I am sure that the vast majority of the Muslim community could not help but feel defensive when those terms were used. However, it is not enough simply to say “terrorists” or “extremists” because we know that people say: “One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter” – and all the rest of it. May I suggest to the Home Secretary, as helpfully as I can, that the Government should use the phrase “un-Islamic extremists”? That would show the type of terrorist we were talking about without putting them in the vanguard of the Muslim community, which is where they want to be.

[The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): I am not sure that I agree with that particular term. However, the hon. Gentleman makes a serious and thoughtful point about the impact of language on those who are part of our joint, shared work against the minority who choose to turn to terrorism. He makes the important point that language, alongside resources, legislation and other prevention work, is part of our work to tackle the problem.]