James Forsyth

Sajid Javid can combat the extremists’ narrative

Sajid Javid can combat the extremists' narrative
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The government will launch its new counter-terrorism strategy next week, I write in The Sun today. It’ll also introduce a new bill to ensure longer sentences for terrorists.

This strategy will see more resources for the Prevent programme in high priority areas such as London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bradford. There’ll are plans too, to recruit over a thousand more staff to the security services so that a greater number of suspects can be kept under close surveillance at any one time.

There’ll be steps taken to ensure that those released from prison are monitored more closely once they have been released. There’ll also be a fresh push to get the tech companies to do more to combat terrorist material online.

But, perhaps, the most important thing about this strategy is the Home Secretary introducing it. Sajid Javid is a walking rejection of the extremists’ argument that Britain is inherently prejudiced against Muslims. He shows that Muslims can succeed in this country, rising to positions of power and prominence .

This counter-terrorism strategy is very much focused on the operational side of things, how to catch terrorists before they strike. But I understand that Javid is keen for the government to do more work on countering extremism. He understands that if you stop young people from accepting the extremists’ narrative, then they won’t turn into terrorists.

Javid is uniquely well-placed to take on this extremist narrative. It is far harder for critics to accuse him of being Islamophobic and the like when he talks about why the constant, anti-Western grievance narrative that is pumped out by a few Muslim preachers is wrong—and unhealthy. As he showed when he was Communities Secretary and argued that immigrants needed to be able to learn English if they were to play a full role in society, Javid is not afraid to take on these difficult issues.

However good and well resourced your security services are, the terrorists will always get lucky once or twice. The challenge, then, is to ensure that almost no one in your country is attracted to the terrorists, their warped world view and erroneous interpretation of Islam.

The best way to ensure that kids don’t fall for this nonsense is to show them that this country is an open, tolerant place where people of all faiths can succeed. Few politicians are better equipped to deliver that message than Sajid Javid.