Campaign groups said the government’s new definition of extremism ‘exploits fears against Muslims’.

Michael Gove named a string of groups amid what he called ‘rising concerns about threats to social cohesion and British democracy’.

In the Commons, the Communities Secretary used parliamentary privilege to tell MPs the views held by organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage and Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development), as well as far-right groups the British National Socialist Movement and Patriotic Alternative would be assessed to see whether they met the description’s threshold.

He vowed the Government would “take action as appropriate” if that was found to be the case.

The new definition was said to make ‘clear extremism can lead to the radicalisation of individuals, deny people their full rights and opportunities, suppress freedom of expression, incite hatred, weaken social cohesion, and ultimately, it can lead to acts of terrorism’. 

A joint statement by CAGE International; Palestine Action and Black Lives Matter UK read: “His announcement is a continuation of the decades-long strategy aimed at inciting and exploiting fears against Muslims to build an authoritarian and repressive infrastructure that suppresses any dissent that is not licensed by Whitehall.

“We the undersigned: Reject the rationale of counter-extremism policy in the UK that serves only to strengthen the state’s coercive powers without any pretense of due process or judicial oversight.

“We will continue to engage in political activity, protest, and direct action for the public good, outside of the narrow constraints of ‘licensed dissenters’ which this new definition will seek to impose.

“We note that defining extremism has been a failed endeavor, despite multiple prime ministers and seven years of the CCE and nearly two decades since PREVENT was brought in.

The statement demands ‘the Government be held to account for aiding and abetting the Genocide in Gaza and weaponizing ‘extremism’ to shield itself.

‘The abolition of the authoritarian and repressive infrastructure of laws built on the back of counter-terror and counter-extremism powers.

‘For civil liberties' NGOs and communities to express solidarity with each other in unified rejection of these proposals.’

Following todays’ announcements MEND CEO Azhar Qayum said, “We challenge Michael Gove to repeat his claims outside of parliament and without the protection of parliamentary privilege if he believes he can provide the evidence to back up his view that MEND has called for the establishment of an ‘Islamic state governed by sharia law’.”