Imams, priests, rabbis and other religious figures will be required to enroll on a “national register of faith leaders” and be subject to security checks by the Home Office under the latest legislation designed to counter extremism.
The controversial proposals appear in a leaked draft of the government’s new anti-terrorism legislation, which is due to be announced this autumn.
Registration will be compulsory for all religious leaders who wish to work in the public sector. Most faith leaders have a connection to the public sector, meaning the proposals will cover the majority.
The plans point to a significant increase in government involvement in religion, which is likely to be resisted.
Maulana Shah Raza, an imam who helped found the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab), which is a self-regulatory board promoting good practice, warned the government “not to meddle in religious affairs or to expand the state’s involvement in deciding on religious and theological issues.”
Minab was founded with support from former-Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour government, but relations with Whitehall have soured after the group failed to sever ties with extremist mosques and imams.
The new crackdown has emerged the week after it materialized that Reyaad Khan, primary target of an RAF drone strike last week, was radicalized at the al-Manar mosque in Cardiff, which has hosted multiple extremist preachers.