Boris urges colleges and prisons to help defeat race hatred
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was asked at a London Assembly meeting about extremism. Mr Johnson thought that the prison and college authorities could do more:
Firstly, universities and what is happening on campuses, I really look to vice chancellors across London to focus very hard on this issue, to look at what is happening in the societies in their universities to make sure that they are open, that they are positive activities and that they are not being infiltrated by people who could be recruiting for terrorist organisations, Al Qaeda or what have you.
Secondly, and perhaps even more important, I am concerned about recruitment in prisons, and anybody who has experience of prisons and young offenders institutions in this country will know that these are very, very fertile recruiting grounds, this is where a lot of people are infected by the virus, as it were, and I am extremely keen to make sure that, with greater Mayoral oversight of prisons, particularly in London, we can do something to ensure that radicalisation does not take place in those prisons.
Mr Johnson tended to think banning demos was a mistake:
It is important that we do not give these guys too much oxygen of publicity and there is a horrible symmetry between the Islamasists and the far-right EDL and the more you big one side up, the more you inflate the other side, and I want to see them both frankly taken down a great many pegs.
He also stressed his view that supporting terrorism was a distortion of Islam:
It is very, very important that people are able to make the distinction between that and the religion of Islam and people understand the psychological process by which a feeling of failure, a feeling of victimhood, is worked upon by people who mean no good in order to recruit them to a completely sick and warped view of the world. It is actually, when you study it, a very simple series of psychological steps, it is preying upon the weakness, the alienation of those individuals, it is genuinely in my view nothing to do with the precepts of a particular religion, it is a corruption of Islam and the more clearly people understand that the better.
All very reasonable points. Under Mr Johnson's predecessor, City Hall was concerned with promoting division. After a slow start this has now changed - although the same pernicious agenda is pursued by Tower Hamlets Council.