LONDON - The British government is planning to set up a taskforce to target Muslim imams seen preaching extremism and violence, in the wake of a machete killing of an army soldier by two converts.
"It will assess the range of strategies to disrupt individuals who may be influential in fostering extremism, Prime Minister David Cameron's office said in a statement cited by Reuters on Sunday, May 26.
The government said the taskforce will include senior ministers, London's police chief and the head of the MI5 domestic security service.
London says the new group aims to fight radicalization in mosques, schools and tighten checks on inflammatory internet materials.
It needs to confront those religious leaders who promote violence head on, the statement said.
The government measure comes days after an army soldier was hacked to death by two Muslim converts from Nigerian origin.
A video showed the attackers blaming British policies for the killing and urging Britons to remove their government.
British police said three people have been arrested in connection with the killing.
British Muslims have condemned the machete killing as contradicting the basic teachings of Islam.
London was last hit by a serious militant attack in July 2005, when four young Islamists set off suicide bombs on the public transport network, killing 52 people.
In the wake of the 2005 attacks, then prime minister Tony Blair tightened rules against Muslim preachers on claims of fighting radicalization.
The measures, however, stirred a long debate about how to balance free speech and civil rights with a strong counter-terrorism strategy.
The new taskforce comes as Home Secretary Theresa May said thousands of Muslims in Britain are at the risk of radicalization.
We have people at different points on what could be the path to violent extremism, May told the BBC One.
She suggested new powers could be introduced to ban groups seen preaching extremism and violence.
We do need to look at the powers, we do need to look at the laws, she said.
We do need to look, for example, at the question of whether perhaps we need to have banning orders to ban organizations that don't meet the threshold for proscription.
Britain launched an anti-terror strategy named Prevent in the wake of the 2005 attacks to fight extremism.
The strategy was designed to prevent Muslims from being lured into extremist ideologies.
However, the Prevent strategy was widely criticized as focusing predominantly on British Muslims.
Britain's 2.7 million Muslims have taken full brunt of anti-terror laws since the 7/7 attacks.
They have repeatedly complained of maltreatment by police for no apparent reason other than being Muslim.A Financial Times opinion poll has showed recently that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net