ExtremismIndependent Adviser Calls for Overhaul of U.K. Counter-Extremism Strategy

Published 8 October 2019

The U.K. government’s independent advisor on extremism is calling for a complete overhaul of the government’s strategy – recommending a new taskforce led by the Home Secretary. The U.K. Commission for Countering Extremism on Monday, 7 October, published its findings and recommendations in a new report, Challenging Hateful Extremism.

Sara Khan, who heads up the U.K. Commission for Countering Extremism, has carried out the first-ever national conversation on extremism and reviewed the government’s current approach.

The commission on Monday, 7 October, published its findings and recommendations in a new report, Challenging Hateful Extremism.

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

It summarizes hateful extremism:

·  behaviors 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 puts forward examples, case studies and the testimony of victims to show the harmful and dangerous consequences of hateful extremism.

·  Examples of inciting and amplifying of 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 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”.

·  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.

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

She calls for a new focus on hateful extremism and a robust, victim-centered and rights-based approach to ensure we respond proportionately to the threat.

The commission recommends a rebooted government strategy and a new taskforce led by the Home Secretary.

Through the taskforce the Home Secretary will provide leadership within government, building on the expertise of those who have been working to challenge hateful extremism elsewhere in society – as with the serious violence taskforce. This will be vital while developing the new strategy.