Theresa May to set up commission for countering extremism

A new legal body would advise the Government on how to assert ‘British, pluralistic values’ over extremist ones

Tom Peck@tompeck
Saturday 27 May 2017 22:00
The Prime Minister said more must be done to combat extremism before it becomes illegal
The Prime Minister said more must be done to combat extremism before it becomes illegal

The Prime Minister has set out her plans for a "Commission for Countering Extremism" in the wake of the Manchester terror attack.

Theresa May said that, as well as governments intervening to tackle extremism if it turns criminal, people can do more to stand up for British values, where Islamist extremism undermines them.

"Britain is one of the world’s most successful multiracial, multireligious and multicultural societies. But our enjoyment of Britain’s diversity must not prevent us from confronting the menace of extremism, even if that is sometimes embarrassing or difficult to do," Ms May said.

"Extremism, especially Islamist extremism, strips some people of the freedoms they should enjoy, undermines the cohesion of our society, and can fuel violence. And it can be especially bad for women."

The Commission for Countering Extremism is mentioned in the Conservatives’ election manifesto, which was launched four days before the attack in Manchester on Monday night.

The commission would be established as a statutory body, legally compelled to identify extremism in communities where it threatens to undermine British values.

Its role would be to encourage people and employers to recognise and challenge extremism, and seek to stamp it out in the same way there has been a marked shift in public attitudes to racism in recent years.

The commission would also advise the Government on what new laws might be required to assert British, pluralistic values over extremist Islamic ones, particularly with regard to women’s rights.

The Prime Minister added: “There is clearly a role for government in tackling extremism where it involves behaviour that is or ought to be criminal. But there is also a role for government to help people and build up organisations in society to promote and defend Britain’s pluralistic values, and stand up to the extremists who want to undermine our values and impose their twisted beliefs onto the rest of us. That is what this plan is all about."

On Saturday afternoon, the Government's independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre downgraded the threat level from critical to severe, and the Prime Minister said the withdrawal of troops from the streets would begin on Monday.

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