Limits of UK Counterterrorism Policy and its Implications for Islamophobia and Far Right Extremism

  • Fatih University, Istanbul
  • Birmingham City University The Centre for Applied Criminology Birmingham B42 2SU
     United Kingdom


The UK Government has recently announced a new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 to facilitate tackling the threat of violent extremism. In light of this and previous initiatives, this paper provides a critical assessment of UK counterterrorism policy. This policy has created a notion of ‘suspect communities’ such that it has alienated young Muslims at the community engagement level, conceivably and empirically, potentially further exacerbating concerns government and communities have over questions of radicalisation, extremism, and the associated political and criminal violence. This paper argues that such policies can lead to the institutionalisation of Islamophobia, acting as an echo chamber for far right extremism to flourish. Significant gaps in government policy in this area can only be addressed by fostering effective relations between communities and policy makers, with enablers such as police officers, youth workers, activists and faith leaders empowered to formulate nuanced approaches in various local area settings. Given the social, cultural and political situation regarding British Muslim youth, including those presently thought to be fighting in parts of Iraq and Syria, as well as ongoing threats on UK soil presented as imminent and dangerous by UK government, there remain acute challenges with limited opportunities.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2015-10-05
Pages:16 to 29
Fetching Scopus statistics
Fetching Web of Science statistics

Author Biographies

Fatih University, Istanbul

Tahir Abbas is Professor of Sociology at Fatih University in Istanbul. He has published ten books, including two monographs; one on the education of British South Asians and the other on Islamic political radicalism in Britain. He has published in numerous sociology, education, Islamic studies and political science journals and edited collections. He has also written for The GuardianTimes Higher Education, NZZ, Prospect, openDemocracy and Fair Observer. He has three forthcoming books, the co-edited Political Muslims with Syracuse University Press, Beyond Islamophobia with Oxford University Press/Hurst, and Contemporary Turkey with Oxford University Press.

Birmingham City University The Centre for Applied Criminology Birmingham B42 2SU
 United Kingdom
Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology