'Robust' defences against Islamic extremism needed, says Gove

Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Education Secretary Michael Gove has warned that Britain needs to step up its defences to counteract the rise of Islamic extremism.

"Islamism is a perversion of Islam in the same way that communism was a perversion of socialism and fascism is a perversion of nationalism," he said in an interview on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

"If liberalism is to survive – and I believe liberalism is the way in which we approach these issues, liberal values are our best protector – we need to be robust."

He continued: "We need to challenge those views and we need to make sure that people who have views that are inimical to liberal values and wish to use institutions to push an agenda which is inimical to liberal values are not in a position where they can use public money or the public square in order to push their views."

Gove's words come in the wake of the 'Trojan Horse' controversy - the discovery of an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to take over a group of schools in Birmingham and promote fundamentalist ideology.

He has announced that all schools in the UK will be expected to hold and promote "British values" of tolerance and fairness.

Of the Trojan plot, the Education Secretary commented yesterday: "There are broader questions about the extent to which these activities were coordinated and the extent to which those responsible for those activities may have had a broader agenda.

"There are questions for the local authority and my department– the Department for Education – about what was known and what was done," he added.