https://extremismcommission.blog.gov.uk/2019/05/05/sunday-times-story-on-our-academic-papers-read-our-full-statement/

Sunday Times story on our academic papers - read our full statement

Sara Khan discusses Far Right extremism in Newcastle.
Sara Khan discusses Far Right extremism in Newcastle.

As part of our work on a study into all forms of extremism, we gave academics the chance to bid to write short papers on crucial extremism issues.

We expected to hear a range of views including some we disagreed with.

The academics are completely independent of the Commission, and their papers will be scrutinised and challenged by the Lead Commissioner, our Expert Group and an independent peer review.

Two of the 29 academics who successfully bid to write papers are the subject of a Sunday Times story (behind a pay-wall).

The newspaper reports that they have published tweets which promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

This issue was raised with the Commission last month. We felt the tweets were unacceptable and we took urgent action.

Our approach is outlined in the statement below from our Lead Commissioner Sara Khan, along with more on why we're working with academics.

The Sunday Times article also quotes comments made by the authors at a recent event. These are not the views of the Commission either. We believe that such arguments and ideas must be challenged and debated. This does not equate to conferring legitimacy.

The Commission’s Charter makes clear that we are free to engage widely for the purpose of countering extremism. This is important in allowing us to find better and more effective ways of reducing extremism.

Our statement

Here is Sara's statement in full, part of which is used in the Sunday Times.

“I want to find more effective ways of challenging extremism in our country. That is why, along with a public call for evidence and a tour of the country, I have given academics the chance to put forward a range of perspectives, including ones I disagree with.

“These academics are not my advisors nor are they members of my Expert Group. Their academic views do not represent the views of the Commission.

“I will not tolerate anti-Semitic conspiracy theories or hateful comments about any community.

“Having been made aware of these abhorrent tweets, I have already challenged the academics.

“They both stated they rejected anti-Semitism and agreed to my request of meeting a Jewish organisation with me to hear about the real-world consequences of these harmful views. I made clear their attendance at a closed conference held this week was conditional on doing so.

“I personally scrutinised and challenged their papers at this conference, along with members of my Expert Group.

“In a free and democratic society, challenging extremism requires more debate not less.

“This is the standard I have set my Commission. I have seen first-hand how dialogue is vital in helping to change divisive attitudes.

“Jews in our country are being targeted by the Far Right, the Far Left and Islamist extremists.  My Commission is committed to working with Jewish organisations to challenging the poison of anti-Semitism in this country.”

Full details of the papers, the authors and the terms and conditions are online.

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