Tory communities secretary Michael Gove. (Picture: Simon Walker)

The Tories are desperate to ramp up hatred towards Muslims and scare pro-Palestine supporters off the streets. But so far their racism hasn’t been working. 
This week Michael Gove—Tory communities secretary—was set to announce new “anti-extremism” plans.
The new government definition of extremism will classify individuals or groups as extremist if they seek to undermine Britain’s “liberal democracy”, replacing the Prevent definition. 
Councils and universities will be able to ban funding or stop engaging with some Muslim groups.
“Some of the events that have been organised, have been organised by extremist organisations,” Gove told the Sunday Telegraph about the national Palestine marches.
He also claimed the term “Islamophobia” could have a “chilling effect on free speech”.
While free speech “has to be protected”, Gove said, “there are people who are operating deliberately to undermine our democracy”.
He said the “exploitation of that space by extremists has only grown”.
Gove also looked to divide Muslims—pledging to protect “good” Muslims from Islamic “extremists” who want to “set Muslims apart from the rest of society”. 
But there are splits at the top and some Tories have cautioned against the move.
That includes counter-terror and extremism “experts” and three former home secretaries, including Priti Patel.
In an open letter they say that to be “successful” the issue shouldn’t be used “to seek short term tactical advantage” in the run-up to the election.
They want a united ruling class against what they see as enemies. The right also fears that it could shut down their reactionary campaign against abortion rights or over gender.
Tory MP Danny Kruger shared concerns with Radio 4 about “state agents” implementing “vague notions about what’s acceptable in a modern democracy”.
The Tories’ “extremism adviser” Robin Simcox said last week that central London was being turned “into a no-go zone for Jews every weekend”. 
Simcox is affiliated with the Henry Jackson society—a vicious anti-Muslim organisation. 
But for all their threats and Islamophobia, the Tories have failed to stop the mass mobilisations for Palestine.
And they know they would fail to push their plans through parliament. 
Sunak highlighted the crackdown plans in his speech outside Downing Street, claiming a “new robust framework” was coming to delegitimise extremists. 
In the same speech he called on the cops to “police” protests and force them off the streets. “I say this to the police—we will back you when you take action,” Sunak said.
But police didn’t take more action on last Saturday’s London march.
Socialist Worker witnessed multiple occasions of police failing to intimidate marchers.
On one, cops tried to confiscate a banner that had a painting of a Palestinian man holding a dead child.
The crowd encircled the protester and questioned why the police were doing this—forcing the cops to scuttle off.
And a crowd also blocked a police van to stop them arresting a protester, forcing the police to let them go. 
So despite the threatened repression, the Tories haven’t managed to stop the movement for Palestine.
The over 450,000 who marched last week did so in spite of Sunak’s warnings for Muslims to stay off the streets.
That doesn’t mean the movement should be complacent about the threat of state repression.
Arrests, repression and intimidation are designed to make people think twice before they speak-out for Palestine.
But last weekend showed that hundreds of thousands of people will not be intimidated. And the bigger the protests are, the harder it is to stop us.
With the Met police in a crisis spiral, some in the force won’t want to be seen beating up and carting off protesters, especially when the Tories are so weak.
Pro-Palestine protesters should challenge the new definition of “extremism”. It’s right to criticise Israel and call for its end.
It’s right to point the finger at the United States and Britain for their bloody role in the slaughter. 
And it’s right to defend Palestine, support the resistance and call for a one-state solution. The best way to overcome Tory threats is to march, organise and fight back. 

Join Stand Up To Racism’s national protests, Stop the Hate on 16 March in London and Glasgow, and 17 March in Cardiff. More details here

Gove’s long record of racism 
Michael Gove has a long history of attacking Muslims. As education secretary he shaped a new wave of repression against Muslims through the Trojan Horse scandal.
In late 2013 a fake letter was sent to Birmingham council, pretending to be secret correspondence between Muslim parents.
They were supposedly planning to infiltrate the city’s schools in a plot called Operation Trojan Horse.
The letter was bogus—and the Tories knew it. Yet Gove, the education authorities and the Tories deliberately used the letter to ramp up Islamophobia.
They pretended Muslims were conspiring to subvert democracy, and painted Park View school as a hotbed of extremism.
Gove encouraged the scandal to spread the idea that Muslims are the enemy within. He is playing that same game again.
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