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Politics – Extremism concerns

August 2017

The UK Government’s ongoing plans to establish an extremism commission have been met with serious criticism from the head of public policy at the Evangelical Alliance.

In a statement, Simon McCrossan commented: ‘Proposals from the government to introduce an extremism commission raise more questions than they answer. The government has tried and failed in recent years to define extremism in a way that tackles terrorism and its causes, without restricting freedom of ideas which may be unpopular or contentious.

‘Violent extremism is a scar on our communities and a threat to our security, but it is not solved by shutting down peaceful freedom of expression’.

He pointed out that, in 2016, Home Office minister Karen Bradley MP provided 10 different definitions of extremism to the Joint Committee of Human Rights.

Mr McCrossan said: ‘It is a matter for Parliament to define with legal certainty what extremism is and, importantly, what it is not. The proposed commission must not become a means of bypassing democratic scrutiny and debate about an elusive term which potentially affects the human rights and civil liberties of all.

‘Our existing laws include wide-ranging powers to tackle terrorism and to prevent inciting violence: these need to be used to their full extent. The government has failed to show the gap in its legislative armour and is at risk of appearing to remedy the current situation with more powers that may do more harm than good.

‘We hope the powers of the extremism commission will be clearly defined, and that any definitions of extremism will be clearly the responsibility of Parliament’.