Police consider dropping phrases like ‘Islamist terror’ – ‘They don’t help community’

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A Muslim police organisation has argued the terminology fuels negative perceptions, stereotypes, discrimination and Islamophobia. Alternatives have been suggested.

Instead of the current terminology, the organisation is suggesting ‘faith-claimed terrorism’, ‘terrorist abusing religious motivations’ and ‘adherents of Osama bin Laden’s ideology’, the Times newspaper has reported.

The issue was put forward during an online conference which was addressed by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of counter-terrorism policing.

Attacks such as the London bombings in 2005 as well as the Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester Arena attacks in 2017 have all been deemed as ‘Islamist terrorism’.

However the National Association of Muslim Police are advocating for “a change in culture by moving away from using terms which have a direct link to Islam and Jihad”.

They said: “These do not help community relations and public confidence.”

Instead, they are suggested to use the Arabic word, Irhabi, which is used throughout the Middle East to describe extremest views.

David Toube, of counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, argued people will feel they are not getting the whole truth.

He said: “People do not like to feel that they are being told only the partial truth. There is a serious problem with Islamist terrorism.

“The use of any term that obscures that fact risks damaging public trust in the police.”

Chief Superintendent Nik Adams, the coordinator of the de-radicalisation unit Prevent, said while the discussion was important, they have no plans to change the terminology just yet.

He said: “We have no plans to change the terminology we use at present but welcomed the debate and contributions.

“It’s vital we get our terminology right to define the threat accurately and succinctly but also to avoid alienating communities crucial to our efforts.”

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Over recent years, the UK has seen a wave of terrorist attacks including a recent incident in Thorpe Park and a fatal stabbing attack in Reading.

Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed to increase the number of police on the streets and promised there will be stricter border controls following the end of the Brexit transition period.

Last month, Ms Patel said: “We continue to pursue every option available to tackle the terrorist threat and to take dangerous people off our streets.

“Our world-class CT, police and security services have my unequivocal backing as they hunt down hate-fuelled terrorists and extremists.

“My message today is clear, simple and strong: swift justice will be done, victims will be supported and if further action is needed to stop terrorists in their tracks, this government will not hesitate to act.”

However, Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds warned: “Legislation alone is not enough.

“We need a comprehensive look at de-radicalisation in our prisons, how people who pose a threat are risk-assessed and how different agencies can work together to safeguard against tragedies in the future.”

Ronald Sandee, a former senior counter-terrorism official at the Dutch Military Intelligence Service (MIVD), warned the UK intelligence community will fail until the UK tackles extremism.

In his latest comment piece on the Express.co.uk, Mr Sandee said: “As lockdown is eased, there are thousands of volatile individuals whose life opportunities will be reduced by a wave of job losses, and whose hatred of the west will have been hardened through online searches out of boredom in lockdown.

“So I urge my friends in the UK, give the intelligence community a break; they’ve been working in overdrive to stop the leaks as the roof collapses above them.”

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