A Bolton MP who “grew up in an environment of terrorism” has warned that the government’s new definition of extremism could be a “slippery slope.”

Mark Logan, Conservative MP for Bolton North East, said that he was concerned that recent pro-Palestinian rallies he has attended could have been “outlawed or silenced.”

Mr Logan, born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, asked for reassurance at the House of Commons that this would not be allowed to happen.

He said: “Can we be assured that this is not a slippery slope in months and years ahead which will lead to a position across the criminal law where people do not feel that they’re able to speak their mind anymore.

“And I take the example of two or three weeks ago in my constituency I attended a rally in support of Gaza, but of course we have seen in recent months that that’s almost been outlawed or people have been silenced from doing that.

The Bolton News: Several rallies in support of Palestine have taken place in recent weeksSeveral rallies in support of Palestine have taken place in recent weeks (Image: Henry Lisowski)

“So, can the Secretary of State give those commitments that this will not be the commencement of a slippery slope?

“And I say that as someone who has grown up in Northern Ireland, and has grown up in an environment of terrorism, and I know that it’s very easy whenever you think you’re putting one person away that you end up with a thousand enemies behind him.”

The government’s new definition defines “extremism” as “the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance.”

This is ideology that aims to “negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” or “undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights”.

But critics have warned that this could impact on legitimate protests, such as the mass rallies in Bolton in support of Palestine since the most stage of the conflict erupted last October.

People have gathered in their thousands to take part in the rallies, several of which begun in Queens Park, off Spa Road, before culminating in speeches from the town hall steps.

In February this year Mr Logan dramatically broke ranks with his own party leadership to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, saying that Israel had “gone too far.”

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The previous February Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, resigned from her party’s frontbench to call for a ceasefire.

In response to concerns about the new definition of extremism Communities Secretary Michael Gove has said the UK “is stronger because of its diversity.”

He said: “But our democracy and our values of inclusivity and tolerance are under challenge from extremists.

“In order to protect our democratic values, it is important both to reinforce what we have in common and to be clear and precise in identifying the dangers posed by extremism.”