The government’s controversial Commissioner for Countering Extremism, Sara Khan, has said that the tactics of “extremists” are changing, including an “intellectualising of hate” and a “misuse of human rights language.”
Writing in the Eastern Eye, Khan said she had spent the last few months travelling the country, engaging with 300 people, visiting 10 cities and speaking to academics, experts, faith leaders, women’s organisations, youth groups, civil society groups and others.
She wrote: “Whether its Birmingham or Bradford, Leeds or Liverpool, I was struck by the view that in 2018 the stereotypes of far-right thugs or Islamist hate preachers don’t always ring true. The tactics of extremists are changing. This includes a new-found professionalism, an intellectualising of hate and the misuse of human rights language.
“Social media has created new opportunities for the spread of hateful content and how ‘keyboard bigots’ who spread conspiracy theories, are having an increasing influence out in communities
“But we have just scratched the surface. We need to look into the scale and harm of extremism, and ask difficult questions about extremism in communal settings, such as schools and places of worship. Whether it’s Far Right, Islamist or other forms of extremism, we need to investigate extremists’ changing tactics.”
Meanwhile, Khan has formed a new “Expert Group” to report on counter extremism strategy which includes several pro-Prevent and establishment figures such as the Tell Mama founder Fiyaz Mughal and the former Met police officer Mark Rowley.
The purpose of the Expert Group is to provide Khan with “constructive advice” in her first 12 months of the Commission on “gathering evidence, publishing a comprehensive study and making recommendations to the Home Secretary, including a workplan for the Commission in future years.”
When she was appointed to her £140,000 a year three-day-a-week post in January, more than a hundred Muslim leaders in the UK signed a joint statement condemning Khan’s appointment.
They said she had no grassroots credibility with the Muslim community and no academic background or serious practical experience upon which to take up the role.
They said: “We believe that this appointment will further damage relations between the Government and Muslim communities. We have no confidence in this appointment and firmly believe that Muslim communities will refuse to liaise with Miss Khan thereby defeating the purpose of her appointment to the role.”
Khan’s “Expert Group” includes Fiyaz Mughal, the founder and director of Faith Matters and Tell Mama; Sir Mark Rowley, the former Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations of the Metropolitan Police; Lord Anderson, the government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation 2011 to 2017; Dame Louise Casey, who carried out and published the Casey Review into social integration and opportunity in December 2016 which also looked at the effects of extremism on integration; and Dr Azeem Ibrahim, a Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.