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The United Kingdom's Extreme Anti-Extremism Policy

Why It Won't Work

A man walks past graffiti showing CCTV cameras in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham, central England, October 2, 2010. Darren Staples / Reuters

Although it garnered little attention in the United States, the five-year anti-extremism strategy that British Prime Minister David Cameron announced last month during a major speech in Birmingham marked a significant moment in the evolution of Western counterradicalization policies. The program, occasioned by the rapid increase of British recruits to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also called ISIS), which now number in the hundreds, marks the first time that “nonviolent extremism”—a term of recent pedigree and imprecise meaning—has been outlawed as a direct cause of terrorism by a Western government. Cameron’s strategy is a political measure that can now be legally enforced through the United Kingdom’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, passed earlier this year. With all public bodies also given statutory duties to monitor and report on nonviolent extremism, including on the activities of children in primary schools, the state’s power to police ideas in a

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