Government appoints campaigner Sara Khan to lead anti-extremism drive

Sara Khan Credit: Commission for Countering Extremism

A prominent campaigner has been appointed by the Government to lead a fresh drive to root out and tackle extremism in the UK.

Sara Khan will head up the newly-created Commission for Countering Extremism, the Home Office announced.

Plans to set up the commission were announced by Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of the Manchester Arena terror attack which left 22 people dead and more than 500 injured.

Manchester bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people when he detonated his device.

The body will be tasked with identifying and challenging all forms of extremism, advising ministers on new policies and promoting "pluralistic British values".

Its remit is expected to include helping train schools and colleges to spot warning signs and ensuring women's rights are upheld.

One of its first jobs will be to produce an assessment of the threat extremism poses and the current response to it in the UK.

Ms Khan, a counter-extremism and women's rights activist, said she was "honoured and humbled" at being appointed to the position which she is expected to take up in the next month.

"I recognise the scale of the challenge we face in confronting extremism and I am deeply committed to this role," she added.

"I will create a Commission that is forthright in challenging extremism in the name of our shared values, fundamental freedoms and human rights.

"To those in our country who recognise the harm and threat extremism continues to pose in our society, I am eager to collaborate and engage.

"I extend my hand out to you to work with me in supporting the Commission's work in building a Britain that defends our diverse country while demonstrating zero tolerance to those who promote hate and who seek to divide us."

Plans for the commission were announced by Theresa May following the Manchester attack. Credit: PA

The appointment is for a period of three years.

Announcing the appointment, Home Secretary Amber Rudd praised Ms Khan, saying she is "expertly qualified" and "will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Commission which will prove vital as it works to identify and challenge extremism and provide independent advice to the Government...

"This Government will not stand by and allow the menace of extremism to undermine the fundamental, pluralistic values which underpin our society."

Sara Khan speaks at the Women in the World conference in 2015. Credit: PA
  • Who is Sara Khan?

Sara Khan's website describes her as "one of the UK's leading Muslim female voices on countering Islamist extremism and promoting human rights".

She is a prominent human rights activist and the current CEO of Inspire, an independent non-governmental organisation working to counter extremism and gender inequality, which she co-founded in 2008.

Following the terror attacks in London in July 2005, Ms Khan sat on the Home Office's Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Working Group, and later on the Department for Education’s Due Diligence and Counter-Extremism Expert Reference group.

Ms Khan has also given evidence on the issue of radicalisation to the European Parliament, to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and to the Joint Committee on Human Rights which compromises both Houses of Parliament.