Remove Sara Khan as head of ‘Commission for Countering Extremism’
Monday January 29 2018
On 24th January 2018, the Government announced that Sara Khan (co-founder of Inspire) will be the new Commissioner for Countering Extremism, prompting 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 legislation contained within the current criminal justice system and counter-terror infrastructure would appear sufficient without the need for the commission.
However, if the position must exist, it is obvious that the person appointed must command the respect of communities such as the Muslim community.
Ms Khan does not command such respect, due to her;
- Lack of experience or expertise in terrorism, radicalisation or related disciplines
- Lack of transparency and openness about the independence of her organisation Inspire, when secret links with the Home Office have been uncovered
- Conflicts of interest with Inspire historically soliciting funding from the Prevent programme whilst some of its employees held Prevent related posts in Local Authorities and the Police
This decision reflects a deeply flawed judgement by the Home Secretary and it is imperative that a more suitable candidate is appointed.
“Template: MP Letter
I am contacting you regarding the recent appointment of Sara Khan (co-founder of Inspire) to the post of ‘Commissioner for Countering Extremism’. I believe that the decision to appoint Ms Khan is deeply flawed and inappropriate, and ask you to call upon the Home Secretary to reverse this decision.
I firstly must question whether the post of Commissioner for Counter Extremism is necessary as the legislation contained within the current criminal justice system and counter-terror infrastructure would appear sufficient, without the need for the commission.
Secondly, if the position must exist, I have fundamental concerns regarding Ms Khan’s suitability for the role.
Ms Khan has no grassroots credibility within the Muslim community and no academic background or serious practical experience upon which to take up the role.
The lack of any agreed definition of “extremism” and “radicalisation” is problematic considering that Ms Khan's work in this area presupposes a specific focus on "Islamist extremism". As such, we must question her credentials to tackle the threat of “far-right extremism” with equal vigour.
Moreover, Ms Khan has lacked transparency over the years with ‘conflicts of interests’ arising between her organisation, Inspire, and public bodies.
I am also concerned about the lack transparency and openness about the independence of Inspire, given that secret links between it and the Home Office have been uncovered in respect of its flagship campaign #MakingAStand.
I believe that this appointment will further damage relations between the Government and Muslim communities. I have no confidence in this appointment and am concerned that Muslim communities will refuse to liaise with Ms Khan, thereby defeating the purpose of her appointment to the role.
It is for these reasons that I ask you to call upon the Home Secretary to reverse this decision with immediate effect, and ensure a more suitable candidate is appointed.