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Commission seeks new focus on ‘hateful extremism’

25th Oct 2019
Commission seeks new focus on ‘hateful extremism’

Sara Khan was appointed by the Home Secretary to lead the CCE in January 2018 (Photo: Mramoeba/WikiCommons)

Hamed Chapman

The Government’s recently set-up Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) is seeking the establishment of a new taskforce led by the Home Secretary in a complete overhaul of the strategy.

Commission head, Sara Khan, who was previously a member of the Home Office’s Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Working Group, said that a new category of extremist behaviour outside of terrorism and violent extremism had been identified and was being called ‘hateful extremism.’

“I am putting forward a clear description of hateful extremism – the inciting or amplifying of hate, the hateful targeting of individuals and making the moral case for violence,” Khan said after carrying out what was described as the first-ever national conversation on extremism.

“Our country’s response to terrorism is robust. This is not the case for hateful extremism. Yet if we are to be successful in reducing the extremist threat in our society, we need to focus our efforts on challenging hateful extremism.”

She argued that the Government was not doing enough to protect victims and must do more to address the “spread of hateful extremism on our streets and online” as well as “urgently overhaul its approach to challenging extremism, starting with a new definition of hateful extremism, a new Government strategy and a Home Secretary-led taskforce.”

Advocacy group Cage described the latest report entitled Countering Extremism, Challenging Hateful Extremism as presenting “very little substantial content” in introducing “yet another new focus for the failing ‘extremism industry.’” It accused CCE of latching onto an “ever-expanding array of thoughts and beliefs that it seeks to ‘criminalise’under the banner of counter-extremism” to try to ensure the commission remained relevant.

The report summarises hateful extremism as “behaviours that can incite and amplify hate, or engage in persistent hatred, or equivocate about and make the moral case for violence” and 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 and that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to individuals, communities or wider society.”

Asim Qureshi, Research Director for Cage, criticised it as “an attempt to take the UK down a deeper, darker path towards silencing any form of dissent to the structures of racism within the state.”

“Sara Khan has demonstrated her desire for a closed society, which is indicative of the poor way in which the entire topic has been studied and accepted. By relying on right-wing think tanks and Muslims committed to supporting securitisation, the CCE has only confirmed the objectionable nature of its existence,” he said.

The commission also coincidently published three academic papers on what it called “Islamism” as well as one on “Sikh activism.” The first examined what it called “The circuit of ‘islamist’ clerics who argue that all Muslims are subject to a religious obligation to establish a theocratic caliphate” before considering how institutions which promoted these clerics were welcomed into civil society and the consequences of that process of mainstreaming.

The second was an “analysis of ‘participationist’ or mainstream Islamism in Britain, including a brief history of the main groups, and a nuanced account of their goals, beliefs and values informed by original research.” The third asked what is to be done about the outlawed al-Muhajiroun and proposed that rather than increasing police powers, the Government should “empower local communities and former activists who reject the network’s ideology.”

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