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CST welcomes Sara Khan as government’s counter-extremism tsar as criticism mounts

Campaigner says she recognises scale of the challenge ahead of her

    Sara Khan
    Sara Khan (Photo: Home Office)

    The Community Security Trust has welcomed the appointment of Sara Khan as head of the government’s new anti-extremism commission.

    CST tweeted its congratulations to Ms Khan, a campaigner against extremism in the Muslim community, on Thursday, saying: “We look forward to working with you and the Commission.”

    But the announcement of her appointment was criticised by figures concerned about Ms Khan’s support for the government’s anti-terrorism Prevent strategy, which is viewed with suspicion by some sections of the Muslim community.

    Diane Abbott, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, said: "It seems to be a very ill-advised appointment, based on the widespread perception that she has only come to prominence because of her support for the government's Prevent strategy.

    “It is not an appointment that will build confidence across our communities.”

    Lady Warsi, a Tory peer and the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet, said many British Muslims saw Ms Khan as a government stooge and questioned her independence.

    Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "The fight against terrorism requires equal partnership between all parties, including Muslim communities.

    "This appointment risks sending a clear and alarming message that the government has no intention of doing so."

    Plans for the commission were announced by Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of last year’s Manchester Arena terror attack in which 22 people died.

    It will advise government on policies to challenge extremism and promote "pluralistic British values".

    Ms Khan said she recognised "the scale of the challenge we face in confronting extremism and I am deeply committed to this role”.

    Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said Ms Khan would "bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Commission”.

    Bradford-born Ms Khan describes herself as "one of the UK's leading Muslim female voices on countering Islamist extremism and promoting human rights".

    She is the chief executive of Inspire, an independent organisation working to counter extremism and gender inequality, which she co-founded in 2008.

    She sat on the Home Office's anti-radicalisation group, set up in the wake of the 2005 terror bombings in London.

    In an interview with the JC last July, Ms Khan said: “There’s a critical battle taking place between Muslims in this country who subscribe to very humanistic interpretations of the Koran, who advocate human rights and equality and oppose homophobia and antisemitism, and Islamist extremists who promote vile views.”

    She acknowledged that “in some quarters of Muslim communities there is a normalisation of antisemitism” and expressed concern that communities were becoming increasingly polarised.

    “We need to bring people together,” she said.

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