Over 400 imams and scholars across the UK have called on Muslims to back three organisations which were singled out during the launch of the government's new definition of extremism.

Last week, Michael Gove, the Communities Secretary used parliamentary privilege to tell MPs the views held by the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage and Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development), 'would be assessed to see whether they met the description’s threshold'.

The new definition describes extremism as “the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance” that aims to “negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” or “undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights”.

In a joint statement, the imams pledged their support for CAGE International, MEND and The Muslim Association of Britain.

The statement said: "It is evident to us that individuals who prioritise the Israeli Zionist agenda above Britain’s interests aim to stifle the political engagement of Muslims. 

"The hypocrisy of Mr Gove et al,  who coercively apply “British values,” which includes democracy, whilst simultaneously suppressing democratic participation that opposes their agenda, is glaringly obvious.

"Despite the Prime Minister's purported commitment to bridging gaps with the Muslim  community, his government’s actions suggest a preference for divisive tactics over genuine  dialogue and engagement.

"The ability of a select few to influence government decisions, including the alteration of laws  and definitions to suit their agenda, raises serious concerns about the integrity and  independence of our political system.

"The targeting of Muslim organisations also demonstrates how the politicised discourse of  "extremism” undermines the rule of law, often at the expense of minorities. It is imperative that we, as Muslims, unite against such abuses of power and reject this new  definition of extremism and its ideological assumptions."

It adds: "We call upon the Muslim community and supporters of political integrity and accountability to  support organisations like MEND, CAGE and The Muslim Association of Britain for a fairer  society.

"We also stand in solidarity with Imam Shakeel Begg, recognising his selfless service to his  community, while firmly rejecting the ideological, legally flawed, and unscholarly  characterisation of him as an "extremist".

"As Imams and scholars, we reaffirm our dedication to working towards a better, more just  United Kingdom, free from corruption and injustice. The government's focus on extremism is  a distraction for their failure to address pressing social issues, such as the living expenses  crisis, housing crisis, and escalating incidents of violence and anti-Muslim hatred.

"We urge the public to remain vigilant in safeguarding against this Orwellian drift and holding our elected officials accountable."

Anas Mustapha, Head of Public Advocacy said of CAGE said: “This is a landmark statement that represents a total rejection of the rationale behind Islamophobic counter extremism policies. 

"It's a significant intervention that demonstrates the deep support CAGE International has within its community.”