Most people think the Government’s definition of extremism is unhelpful, according to an official survey.
Over 2,500 members of the public submitted views to the Commission for Countering Extremism. Nearly 60 per cent said the definition was “very unhelpful” with 17 per cent describing it as “unhelpful”.
Speaking in the wake of the report, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said his department was starting work on a new Counter Extremism Strategy.
The Government’s 2015 report states: “Extremism is the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.
“We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist”.
Asked if they could describe extremism, 70 per cent of the public said they were “not sure”. Only 25 per cent thought they could.
The results came from the Commission’s first call for evidence, ahead of making recommendations to the Home Secretary.
Speaking in south London today, Mr Javid criticised the “thought police”, adding, “people are entitled to hold and express their own views”.
“But the challenge is being able to identify where an opinion crosses the line into extremism”, he said, acknowledging the struggle the Government has had in defining the issue.
And he added that there is a “delicate balance between personal and religious freedom and protecting our shared values”.
Mr Javid also announced that his department has started work “on a comprehensive new Counter Extremism Strategy”.
Defend Free Speech
The Christian Institute encouraged supporters to respond to the Commission’s consultation.
The Institute is also working with the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the National Secular Society on a campaign which puts a spotlight on the Commission’s work.