We must defend our right to be offensive – but hateful extremism demands a brave response

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in 2017 that took the lives of 36 innocent people in London and Manchester, I was asked by the Home Secretary to look at the threat of extremism in England and Wales.

Today, after 18 months of evidence gathering, my Commission is releasing a report, “Challenging Hateful Extremism” which has identified a new category of harmful extremist activity; and how we should respond to it.

The Commission describes hateful extremism as behaviours that incite and amplify hate or engage in persistent hatred or make the moral case for violence.

Drawing on hateful, hostile or supremacist beliefs our report shows how it is causing harm to individuals, communities and wider society. [The Telegraph] Read more

Social media firms let off Islamist extremists for fear of being accused of human rights breaches

Social media firms are failing to crackdown on Islamist extremists because of fears of being accused of breaching their human rights, an 18-month investigation into extremism has found.

In her first major report, Sara Khan, the Government’s counter-extremism commissioner, says social media firms and other bodies are taking tougher action against Far Right groups than other extremists like Islamists.

The report claims Islamist groups have been “particularly good” at “subverting” the human rights agenda to counter measures to curb their extremist activities.

At the same time, human rights groups have turned a blind eye to protecting victims of Islamist extremism by instead focusing on the impact of anti-terror measures on civil liberties.

“For too long, human rights organisations have remained silent whilst the human rights of some groups are trampled on by extremists,” it says. [The Telegraph] Read more

Islamist extremists exploited LGBT school teaching tensions to fuel hate – report claims

Islamist extremists exploited tensions over equality teaching in Birmingham schools to amplify hate against LGBT+ people, a hard hitting report claims.

Hizb ut-Tahir and other pro-Islamist organisations allegedly tried to use the dispute, centred on two small primary schools in Sparkhill and Alum Rock, to “promote their belief that Western liberalism was a threat to Islam.”

Today’s publication – called Challenging Hateful Extremism – follows a year long probe by the Commission for Countering Extremism, led by Sara Khan.

She visited cities across the country, including Birmingham, to gather first hand evidence of the experiences of people on the receiving end of hate and those who seek to challenge it. [BirminghamLive.co.uk] Read more

Efforts to combat extremism failing because of way Government has defined it, commissioner says

Efforts to combat extremism are failing because the Government’s definition of it is so broad that it is hampering free speech, the counter-extremism commissioner has said.

In an exclusive article for The Telegraph on the eve of her first major report today, Sara Khan said the freedom of people to call out extremism is being muzzled because the definition includes legitimate debate and free speech as well as terrorism.

Her report released on Monday, based on 3,000 responses to her inquiry, survey data and visits to 20 towns and cities, will warn that communities are being ripped apart by “hateful extremism” because of the Government’s “unfocused” strategy.

She writes: “As our report shows, distinguishing democratic debate from hateful extremist activity is critical. We must continue to protect and preserve freedom of expression.

“This includes our right to be radical, to protest and even be offensive. I believe we need more speech not less to counter hateful extremism; more discussion and debate is vital.” [The Telegraph] Read more