On the 4th October, Forward Thinking convened a roundtable discussion at Finsbury Park Mosque with a diverse group of British Muslim community representatives and Max Hill QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.
This meeting was the final part in a series of regional roundtables Forward Thinking have organised for Mr Hill which have explored the understanding and experiences of counter terrorism legislation in the UK amongst British Muslim communities, one year after the unprecedented wave of terror attacks in 2017. Prior meetings took place in Leicester, Dewsbury, Bradford and Manchester in mid September 2018.
Discussions at the Finsbury Park meeting focused extensively on the potential implications of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill of 2018 and the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2018. In particular, concerns were raised that the so-called “three clicks” provision of the legislation (which would criminalise accessing terrorist propaganda online on three or more occasions) could inadvertently block journalistic or academic research and risked straying into criminalising “thoughts” rather than “deeds.” Concerns were also raised that, without clear safeguards in place, the proposed designated areas offence could prevent vital humanitarian work in conflict areas.
Several other issues were raised over the course of discussions, including questions over how the government are responding to the rise of far-right terrorism; the use of Schedule 7 powers; and what the Home Secretary’s changes to the CONTEST might mean for the public and local authorities.
Forward Thinking are in the process of preparing a summary report of these meetings between community representatives and Max Hill, which we will release shortly to ensure that the key insights and proposed recommendations are publicly available and contribute to current debates.