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The UK government has appointed Sara Khan to lead a new anti-extremism commission
By: Barfi Culture Team
Published: 25th January 2018

The government has appointed Sara Khan, founder of the anti-extremism group Inspire, to head up its new anti-extremism commission. The announcement was made this morning.

Sara Khan's job as the new head of the Commission for Countering Extremism will be to:

- Assess the extent of the threat to Britons from (religious and racial) extremism, and whether enough is being done to oppose it.

- Identify and challenge all forms of extremism

- Advise ministers on new policies and promote "pluralistic British values".

- Help train schools and colleges to spot warning signs of extremism, and ensure women's rights are upheld.

The appointment is for three years.

Prime Minister Theresa May had promised she would create a Commission for Countering Extremism after the Manchester Arena attack last year.

In a statement Sara Khan said she was "honoured and humbled" at being appointed to the position.

Background


Inspire calls itself a, "independent non-governmental counter-extremism and women’s rights organisation".

It was founded ten years ago. "In 2008, frustrated with the lack of concern and will from many so-called representative Muslim organisations (who were typically male-led) in addressing both extremism and women’s rights, Inspire was founded," it states.

It runs campaigns (including one called 'Making a Stand' by Muslim women against ISIS), offers consultancy (it advised on a new ITV drama), and delivers training to Muslim women on tackling extremism.

Sara Khan has not shied away from criticising President Trump or Hindu extremists either.

Nevertheless, she is controversial in some circles for her outspoken views.

Reaction


Reaction to the appointment was divided.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said: "This is a deeply disturbing appointment in a vital role. Sara has unfortunately been a strong advocate of the governments policy of disengagement, a policy which many, including members of the police and intelligence services, consider has damaged the important battle to engage Britains Muslim communities."

"Sara is sadly seen by many as simply a creation of and mouthpiece for the Home Office," she added.

But senior barrister David Anderson QC, who has independently reviewed terrorism legislation, wrote on Twitter: "The idea that she [Sara Khan] is a Government stooge is hard to reconcile with her opposition (strongly shared by me) to its ill-advised 2015/16 plans for a Counter-Extremism Bill."

Amina Lone, the former Labour candidate and co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation, called it an "excellent appointment".

The Muslim Council of Britain was not happy, releasing a statement expressing its "grave concern" at the appointment.

Sunder Katwala, director of the think-tank British Future, welcomed her appointment and said she had "done powerful and courageous work".


Article published on 25th January 2018 in the Politics section




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