LONDON: A prominent campaigner Sara Khan has been appointed by the Government to lead a fresh drive to root out and tackle extremism in the UK. She will head up the newly-created Commission for Countering Extremism, the Home Office announced.
Ms Khan, a counter-extremism and women’s rights activist, said she was “honoured and humbled. I recognise the scale of the challenge we face in confronting extremism and I am deeply committed to this role. “I will create a Commission that is forthright in challenging extremism in the name of our shared values, fundamental freedoms and human rights.
“To those in our country who recognise the harm and threat extremism continues to pose in our society, I am eager to collaborate and engage. “I extend my hand out to you to work with me in supporting the Commission’s work in building a Britain that defends our diverse country while demonstrating zero tolerance to those who promote hate and who seek to divide us.”
Ms Khan, whose official title will be lead commissioner, is co-founder of campaign organisation Inspire. Her website describes her as “one ofthe UK’s leading Muslim female voices on countering Islamist extremism and promoting human rights”.
Announcing the appointment, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The Commission for Countering Extremism will form a crucial part of this Government’s work to stop the scourge of extremism in all its forms and Sara Khan is expertly qualified to lead its important work. “She will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Commission which will prove vital a sit works to identify and challenge extremism and provide independent advice to the Government. “Last century we challenged racism by uniting civil society and the state. We have the same ambition to confront extremism.
“This Government will not stand by and allow the menace of extremism to undermine the fundamental, pluralistic values which underpin our society.” The body will be tasked with identifying and challenging all forms of extremism, advising ministers on new policies and promoting “pluralistic British values”. In one of its early functions, the commission will produce an assessment of the threat extremism poses and the current response to it.
Its remit is also expected to include helping train schools and colleges to spot warning signs and ensuring women’s rights are upheld. Ms Khan is expected to take up her post in the next month. The appointment is for a period of three years.
Baroness Warsi Reacting over the appointment, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has said that Sara Khan will lead the new Commission for Countering Extremism, the home secretary announced, adding that Khan was “expertly qualified”. Khan’s appointment was welcomed by some, including the former terror watchdog, David Anderson QC. However, the appointment of Khan, who is seen as being supportive of the government’s controversial Prevent programme, was immediately met with some criticism, including from within the Conservative party.
The former Tory chairwoman Sayeeda Warsi described it as “a deeply disturbing appointment”. She tweeted: “Sara has unfortunately been a strong advocate of the government’s policy of disengagement, a policy which many, including members of the police and intelligence services, consider has damaged the important battle to engage Britain’s Muslim communities. “For the commissioner to be effective the person had to be an independent thinker, both connected to and respected by a cross-section of British Muslims. Sara is sadly seen by many as simply a creation of and mouthpiece for the Home Office.”