Sara Khan urges government to tackle “hateful extremism”

Extremism commissioner Sara Khan

The government’s controversial Extremism Tsar Sara Khan has called on the Home Office to do more to tackle what she calls “hateful extremism” – a form of non-violent extremism.

Khan, who heads up the Commission for Countering Extremism on a salary of £140K a year for three days a week work, has carried out what she calls the first-ever national conversation on extremism and reviewed the government’s current approach.

Yesterday the commission published its findings and recommendations in a new report, Challenging Hateful Extremism.

The report singles out many Muslim organisations including 5Pillars, CAGE, Hizb ut-Tahrir and MEND. Previously, many Muslim organisations have accused Khan of targeting them because of their opposition to her views on counter extremism.

The report identifies a new category of extremist behaviour outside of terrorism and violent extremism, which it calls “hateful extremism.”

And it says that hateful extremists are exploiting local tensions in towns and cities to propagate their hate and recruit others, leading to social division, censorship, restriction of freedom, crime, violence and harassment.

The report summarises hateful extremism as:

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  • behaviours that can incite and amplify hate, or engage in persistent hatred, or equivocate about and make the moral case for violence
  • that draw on hateful, hostile or supremacist beliefs directed at an out-group who are perceived as a threat to the wellbeing, survival or success of an in-group
  • that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to individuals, communities or wider society

The Commission says examples of inciting and amplifying hatred against others include the active propagation of anti-minority hatred from Far Right demonstrations in Sunderland, or activists from Hizb ut-Tahrir “spreading hate-filled views” about LGBTQ+ people during the row over relationships teaching in Birmingham.

Examples of making the moral case for violence, the Commission added, include a director from an “Islamist” organisation describing a British suicide bomber’s act as “a price worth paying,” or an activist from a banned Far Right group tweeting that the man who murdered Jo Cox MP was “a hero, we need more people like him to butcher the race traitors.”

And according to the Commission, examples of persistent hatred towards individuals including the “shocking finding” that three quarters of those countering extremism on the ground had personally received abuse, intimidation or harassment – because of their work.

Supporting counter extremists

Sara Khan said that, unlike our response to terrorism, the current response to hateful extremism is inadequate and unfocused, leaving victims unrecognised and those countering it unsupported.

She said victims need to be better protected, counter extremists better supported and hateful extremists better challenged. However, Khan added that our right to be radical, to protest and to be offensive should be protected.

“We are a wonderfully diverse and inclusive society. We must not allow extremists to normalise their hatred,” Khan commented.

“Our country’s response to terrorism is robust. This is not the case for hateful extremism. Yet if we are to be successful in reducing the extremist threat in our society, we need to focus our efforts on challenging hateful extremism.

Fiyaz Mughal

“We are not doing enough to protect victims. We underestimate the impact of those that make the moral case for violence. We can, and must, do more to address the spread of hateful extremism on our streets and online.

“The government must urgently overhaul its approach to challenging extremism, starting with a new definition of hateful extremism, a new government strategy and a Home Secretary-led taskforce.

“But this is not just a job for government. The challenge of hateful extremism requires a whole society response built on greater leadership, deeper understanding and innovative interventions.

“We must get behind those who are bravely challenging individuals and groups who are engaged in hateful extremism in society. I am proposing a strengthened commission to drive the changes we need.”

Fiyaz Mughal, Founder and Director of Faith Matters, added: “This report by the Commission for Countering Extremism captures what many activists, campaigners and counter-extremism professionals have been saying for years.

“There is a cumulative personal, organisational and societal set of extremism impacts that toxifies local and regional communities and the values of the nation. For years, activists challenging extremism have been intimidated, smeared and maligned, and the centrist voices of our communities have been pressurised to keep quiet. This report highlights the national cost of extremism and why we need to redouble our efforts to challenge the purveyors of hateful extremism, and their ideologies and funders.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir

Responding to the report, Yahya Nisbet, the media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said the report was filled with insinuation and inaccuracies, labelling any opposition to the aggressive promotion of extreme liberal values as “hate.”

Referring to the report’s criticism of Hizb ut-Tahrir over the LGBT teaching issue in Birmingham, he said: “Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party which has worked for decades seeking to engage people in a meaningful discussion of the ideas and policies that impact people’s lives, of which the education of children is of obvious concern.

“We believe that the secular liberal ideology of capitalism is destroying the beauty of life for most of the world’s population today, including those who suffer the daily violence and oppression on the streets in Britain and overseas. The extreme hatred of the government and the media that promotes their agenda has led to untold misery for most of today’s world.

“We propose the Islamic way of life as a genuine alternative to heal the deep wounds that Western capitalist liberalism is inflicting on the underprivileged masses today. It is incorrect to say that we see Western liberalism as a threat to Islam: it is a threat to all of humanity!

“It is, therefore, the responsibility of all people to expose this dangerous hate-filled and divisive ideology whenever they encounter it. For that, we commend the parents who do not sit idly by watching as their children are subjected to liberal experimentation.

“The peddlers of hate in the government have been truly dismayed by the responsible attitude of the Muslim community, especially the parents, who they fully hoped and expected would rant incoherently against LGBT activists, fuelled by irrational hatred.

“However, the Muslims showed that our ideology is not one of hate, but of genuine care for humanity. The last resort of the Extremism Commission, who already had their narrative, regardless of the evidence, was to blatantly lie about Islam and the Muslims in Britain, labelling us as the hate-filled extremists, while it more accurately applies to themselves.”

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