Sara Khan appointed as independent advisor for social cohesion and resilience

Sara Khan has been appointed by the Prime Minister as the government’s Independent Adviser for Social Cohesion and Resilience today (31 March 2021), as part of government action to tackle extremism in our communities.

In her role as Independent Adviser, Sara will work to understand and build resilience against the negative impact of extremism in local communities. She will work with frontline experts to develop recommendations on how we can better support and protect victims of extremism and those working to stamp it out, as well as communities that are affected.

While dedicated action is already being taken to tackle extremism, further work is required to fully understand the impact and harm it has across our communities.

Sara will look at extremism at a local level with a focus on its impact on individuals and the local communities they live in. She will hear from both victims of extremism and those on the frontline working to combat it – from teachers to faith leaders to local councils – to understand and ultimately counteract its effects.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: 

I am delighted to welcome Sara Khan as this government’s Independent Adviser for Social Cohesion and Resilience. 

We want to build a united and integrated country, in which extremists cannot operate with impunity and all of society, from councils, to schools, to charities, works together to root them out.

Sara will play a vital part in our renewed focus on tackling extremism, and ensure all organisations understand their responsibility to act, our communities and frontline workers get the guidance they need, and the victims of extremism provided with the support they deserve.

Sara Khan said: 

I am honoured to take up this new role on an issue I care passionately about – ensuring that victims are heard and the work of those tackling extremism is supported. As the former Counter-Extremism Commissioner I have seen first-hand the insidious tactics employed by extremists in our towns and cities, in an attempt to undermine social cohesion and our democracy.

The Commission has put forward recommendations on what can be done to tackle extremist activity in our country. However, alongside this it is vital we also support and strengthen institutional and societal resilience and cohesion which act as a critical bulwark against extremism. I look forward to examining this issue in detail and putting forward proposals to help strengthen our communities and democracy from extremist activity.

In her role, Sara will assess what more can be done to bolster protection and support for those who fall victim to extremism and counter extremists.

Sara will begin her  role in April 2021. This work will complement that of the Home Office and Commission for Countering Extremism in their work to tackle extremists who seek to sow hatred and division in communities, and who radicalise others into terrorism.

She will make recommendations on how to build resilience against extremism, understand its impact, and better support its victims and those working to counter it.

Sara Khan biography 

Prior to this role, Sara was appointed by the Home Secretary to lead the newly created Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) in January 2018. 

As Lead Commissioner, Sara was responsible for carrying out a strategic assessment of extremism across England and Wales. She led on the largest national evidence gathering exercise on extremism and independently reviewed the government’s 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy. Her findings were published in October 2019 in the report  Challenging Hateful Extremism.   

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Sara led on the Commission’s report evidencing how hateful extremists had been using divisive, xenophobic and racist narratives to sow division and undermine the social fabric of our country, using tools such as conspiracy theories and disinformation.

In 2021, the Commission published its landmark legal review, Operating with impunity, which evidenced how extremists were exploiting legal gaps, allowing them to operate lawfully and freely. The legal review highlighted some of the worst and most shocking extremist activity that is currently lawful in Britain. 

Before joining the Commission, Sara was co-founder and director of Inspire, an organisation she co-founded in 2008 to challenge gender inequality and Islamist extremism; and in 2016 she co-authored the book ‘The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identity from Extremism’.

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