‘We’ll target Muslim hotspots’

The government will today unveil plans for a map of Britain’s Islamic extremist “hotspots” – so they can be targeted and broken up.

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly will reveal the campaign at a Whitehall summit with police and town hall chiefs. She will order them to identify the universities, schools and mosques where young Muslims are brainwashed – and then take the battle to the fanatics by aggressively countering their hate-filled propaganda.

But the hotspot map risks further infuriating Muslim groups who already claim they are being persecuted by a new anti-Islamic mood within the government. Many are angry after a series of ministers criticised veils worn by Muslim women and warned of the dangers of Islamic schools.

Ms Kelly, below, will tell 20 council bosses and senior police officers that Britain must confront Islamic extremists such as preacher Omar Bakri head-on. She will warn:

“The new extremism we are facing is the single biggest security issue facing local communities. The world has changed since September 11 and 7/7. The government has to change and respond to that and we appeal to local authorities to do the same. We need to work closer together in partnership with the police and local communities to face down this threat.”

Ms Kelly will stress that identifying the hotspots is merely the first step to neutralising the radicals. A source close to Ms Kelly said they wanted town hall bosses and the police to study key questions today, adding:

“Do they understand which sections of their communities might be vulnerable to extremism? Have they mapped likely hotspots? Are they alert to the threat of extremism in universities, colleges and schools? Is there a vacuum of information that can be exploited by extremists?”

Daily Mirror, 16 October 2006