THE organisers behind pro-Palestine marches across the UK have branded the Government’s new definition of extremism as “an assault on core democratic freedoms”.

Michael Gove named five groups “we should be concerned” about as he announced the Government’s new definition of extremism in the Commons.

Two were far-right groups – Patriotic Alternative and the British National Socialist Movement – while three were Muslim groups – the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage and Mend.

Campaigners have said the new definition – which bans “extremist” groups from receiving funding from the Government, meeting with ministers or associating with the Government – was seeking to “silence dissenting voices”.

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In a joint statement, six organisations which have been involved in organising weekly pro-Palestine marches since October 7 said the Government “should stand charged of falling foul of its own definition of extremism”.

They are the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain – the last of which was named in Gove’s statement.

The controversial new definition seeks to marginalise groups which the Government considers fundamentally at odds with “British values” – but which fall short of criminality.

Speaking in the Commons Gove (below) did not name the five organisations as “extremists” but said they gave “rise to concern”.

The National: Michael Gove

He said: “We will be holding these and other organisations to account to assess if they meet our definition of extremism and will take action as appropriate.”

But the joint statement from pro-Palestine march organisers said the Government’s refreshed extremism policy came in response to their activism and from a desire to “demonise those protesting as hatemongers, Islamist mobs and antisemites”.

The groups said: “His redefinition of extremism, framed as a defence of democracy, is in reality an assault on core democratic freedoms, seeking to silence dissenting voices.

“His statement should cause alarm to everyone truly committed to upholding democracy, and the fundamental right to legitimately campaign to change government policy.

“The Government has used the protests we have organised in response to Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people as a core rationale for the need to redefine extremism.

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“Successive Government minsters and pro-Israel voices have attempted to demonise those protesting as hatemongers, Islamist mobs and antisemites.

“The reality is that, as the police themselves have publicly affirmed, the marches have been overwhelmingly peaceful and attended by a broad cross section of British society, young and old, of all faiths and none.”

They charged the Government with “pursuing an Islamophobic agenda which seeks to confine the Muslim community to the margins of democratic society”.

And they added: “It is a government which has run roughshod over the rule of law, illegally proroguing parliament, illegally planning to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, and whose MPs have deliberately exacerbated racism and Islamophobia. It should stand charged of falling foul of its own definition of extremism.

“We reject the description of members of our coalition as extremists who cause division and harm to the Muslim community. 

“No one should take lessons in what is in the interests of Muslims in Britain from a man with a track record of support for anti-Muslim policies, associations and discourse.”