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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

"Islamist Extremists, Far-Right Groups Spreading Poison": UK PM Rishi Sunak


Following weeks of simmering tension in the UK over the Gaza conflict, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Friday said that the "time has come" to battle extremist forces as he warned "democracy itself is a target".

In an unusual address from outside his Downing Street home, Sunak said that "in recent weeks and months, we have seen a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality."

Regular marches protesting Israel's military response to Hamas' October 7th attacks have seen dozens arrested for anti-Semitic chanting and banners, inviting support for a proscribed organisation and assaulting emergency workers.

Right wing conter-protesters were also arrested when they descended on London for Remembrance Day events in November.

"Islamist extremists and far-right groups are spreading a poison. That poison is extremism," said Sunak.

Matters came to a head last week when the Speaker of the House of Commons said he bucked procedure during a debate due to concerns about the safety of MPs.

Sunak said that the protests, a regular occurence on Saturdays in the capital, "had descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence."

"Now our democracy itself is a target. Council meetings and local events have been stormed.

"MPs do not feel safe in their home. Long-standing parliamentary conventions have been upended because of safety concerns," he added.

The prime minister said that "police have a tough job in policing the protests" but that "we must draw a line."

"I say this to the police, we will back up when you take action," he added.

Sunak's speech came as left-wing firebrand George Galloway was elected to the UK parliament after tapping into anger over the Israel-Hamas war in a chaotic by-election marred by allegations of anti-Semitism.

Sunak said it was "beyond alarming" that voters had elected a candidate "who dismisses the horror of what happened on October 7th, and who glorifies Hezbollah."

The government will soon unveil a "new, robust framework" to tackle extremism, which will include backing for the counter-radicalisation Prevent programme and a demand for universities to stop extremist activity on campus, he explained.

"It is not enough to live side-by-side, we must live together, united by shared values and a shared commitment to this country," said Sunak.

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