Boris Johnson’s new extremism advisor, Sara Khan, has spoken up in support of the teacher who showed blasphemous images of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) at Batley Grammar School.
Khan, who stepped down as the head of the government’s Commission for Countering Extremism last month, told The Times that it was “just horrifying” that the Religious Studies teacher was “hounded” after children were shown the cartoon.
“There is no right not to be offended,” she said. “The teacher was hounded and I found that just horrifying. No teacher should find themselves in a situation where they need police protection or they’re living in fear that they are going to be murdered by violent extremists simply for doing their job.”
Khan, who has been consistently accused by Muslim organisations of targeting the community, said she could see no justification for “screaming and shouting” outside school gates.
“When the protesters said, ‘We have really deeply held beliefs, and that should be respected and therefore the teacher should be fired,’ my point to them would be: we all in this country have deeply held beliefs, whether they’re religious, political, or otherwise … You can’t say there’s one rule for one group of people and another rule for another group of people.”
She added: “We are equipping our children to be able to live in modern Britain, and modern Britain is diverse, it’s messy, it’s complicated and our children need to grow up to recognise that. Extremists deplore pluralism, they hate diversity, they want everything to be black and white. They don’t have respect for equality or human rights, they denigrate another group of people. That’s why teaching about diversity helps children to develop resilience against extremist narratives.”
Last week Khan was appointed by the Prime Minister as the government’s “Independent Adviser for Social Cohesion and Resilience,” as part of government action to tackle extremism in communities.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “We want to build a united and integrated country, in which extremists cannot operate with impunity and all of society, from councils, to schools, to charities, works together to root them out.
“Sara will play a vital part in our renewed focus on tackling extremism, and ensure all organisations understand their responsibility to act, our communities and frontline workers get the guidance they need, and the victims of extremism provided with the support they deserve.”
Meanwhile, the controversial Robin Simcox has been appointed as Interim Lead Commissioner of the Commission for Countering Extremism.
Prior to founding the UK-based Counter Extremism Group, Simcox served as a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C, a conservative American think tank that has hosted Islamophobic conspiracy theorists.
He is also a former research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, a controversial neoconservative think tank that has been accused of stoking Islamophobia.
He has also described some critics of the British government’s controversial counter-radicalisation programme, Prevent, as “a hysterical and at times unsavoury” coalition.