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British Muslim Community alarmed by the appointment of Sara Khan, and for good reason

British Muslim Community alarmed by the appointment of Sara Khan, and for good reason

Categories: Latest News

Friday January 26 2018

The Guardian reports that Sara Khan, founder of Inspire, has been appointed as head of the newly-created Commission for Countering Extremism. This has prompted over 100 mainstream Muslim community organisations and leaders to sign an open letter objecting to the appointment.

Before the question even arises as to who fills the post, it is firstly debatable whether the post of Commissioner for Counter Extremism is necessary, as the existing counter-terror legislation and infrastructure in place would appear sufficient without the need for the commission.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, described Ms Khan as being ‘expertly qualified’, saying she will “bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the commission…vital as it works to identify and challenge extremism”.

Ms Khan’s appointment, however has also drawn significant criticism from policy-makers, including by Diane Abbott and civil organizations, particularly those representing the Muslim community.

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain – the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body – said that the appointment “will be seen as a move to placate those small sections of society who see Muslims as foreign, alien, rather than as equal citizens in this country”.

Ms Khan has been accused of having no credibility amongst the British Muslim Community. Indeed, the immersion of Inspire within the Prevent programme, and the perception of Prevent being discriminatory against Muslims has arguably alienated her from large sections of British Muslims.

This criticism has been compounded by her intimate professional relationship with the Home Office.

Inspire, founded by Ms Khan, is a project that has received funding from the Home Office and Ms Khan’s book, ‘The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identity from Extremism’, was co-authored by a Home Office Consultant, Tony McMahon.

As such, many view her as simply a mouth-piece for the government.

It has also been noted that the lack of any firm definition of “extremism” and “radicalisation” is itself problematic considering that Ms Khan’s only work in this area presupposes a specific focus on ‘Islamist extremism’. Therefore, her expertise in tackling far-right extremism – a crucial component of domestic terrorism – has been called into question.

These are only some of the concerns raised which call into question Ms Khan’s suitability for the task she has been appointed with.

You can read MEND’s statement on the appointment of Sara Khan here

 

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