About the Defend Free Speech campaign
The Defend Free Speech campaign brings together people from all walks of life. Secular and religious, right and left. We have recognised the threat to free speech from EDOs. We want the Government to pull back from the brink before the legislation passes and guarantee freedom of expression and the right to debate.
EDOs are too sweeping and too open to abuse. They risk transforming lawful activities into criminal offences in a way that threatens freedom of expression.
The government has created an impossible bind for itself: in the name of protecting our values, it’s now seeking to undermine the most fundamental value of all for democracy – freedom of expression. This is a deeply misguided policy that will not only stigmatise minorities, it will criminalise political speech across society and introduce a culture of caution
Extremism Disruption Orders could be a disaster area for people from all the mainstream religions and none.
It makes an absolute mockery, a nonsense, of the very values that we’re trying to defend.
While everyone applauds the principle of tackling Islamic extremism, comments by David Cameron and other senior members of the Government suggest EDOs will exceed even Labour's notorious religious hatred Bill or Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
While it is absolutely right that the government wants to engage with and challenge extremist ideas, remember what those ideas are about...Those ideas are about attacks on civil liberties so it seems to us deeply ironic that the government's response is to restrict our civil liberties which is exactly what these proposals would entail.
Without precise legislative definitions, deciding what are ‘harmful activities of extremist individuals who spread hate’ is subjective and therefore open to abuse now or by any future authoritarian government.
The Home Office will soon, for the first time, assume responsibility for a new counter-extremism strategy that goes beyond terrorism. It will aim to undermine and eliminate extremism in all its forms – not just Islamist extremism – and it will aim to build up society to identify extremism, confront it, challenge it and defeat it.