HOME secretary Sajid Javid this morning (19) announced his department would start work on a new Counter Extremism Strategy as he admitted that politicians were part of the problem of rising extremist views.
Javid, who was shunned from the state dinner during US president Donald Trump’ visit to the UK last month, also condemned the American leader’s “go back home” remarks, targeted at four non-white Congresswomen, while stopping short of calling those statements racist.
“I will call out extremism wherever I see it,” Javid said in a speech in south London. “We all have a role to play in stopping any normalisation or legitimisation of these views.”
Britain’s first Asian to hold one of the great offices of state, Javid is the son of immigrant Pakistanis. He recalled changing his school route in order to avoid name calling by National Front members and said his mother frequently scrubbed away the P word scribbled on the exterior walls of their family shop.
“I was told to go back to where I came from” as a child, the home secretary said in his speech on countering extremism.
Politicians, too, were part of the problem, he added.
“Around the world populism, prejudice – and even open racism – have catapulted extremists into power,” he said. “I’m proud to say this has not happened in mainstream politics here.
“Thankfully, our politics has not gone down the same road as much of Europe and the US.
“But we must act now, to avoid sliding into the barely masked racism of nationalism.”
Noting that everyone was at risk of extremism, the home secretary urged a national conversation about it, and added that “cultural sensitivities must not stop us calling out extremism”.
New findings by the Commission for Countering Extremism have shown that more than half (52 per cent) of respondents surveyed have witnessed extremism. Of these almost half (45 per cent) said they’d seen it online and two-fifths (39 per cent) said they’d seen it in their local area.
Javid also announced amended guidance for companies or organisations that sponsor migrant workers.
“This will allow us to refuse or revoke a sponsor licence where an organisation behaves in a way that is inconsistent with British values, or that’s detrimental to the public good,” he said.
The home secretary stressed the need for a more integrated society and added that he would seek more funds to help those who do not speak English learn the language.
And moving away from the more hardline stance of some in his party, especially that of prime minister Theresa May when she was home secretary, Javid said: “I understand there are some concerns about immigration. Some worry that new arrivals will take over their communities – that our national identity will be diluted. I firmly reject that.
“I’ve seen how immigration can enrich our country and I welcome it.
“But if people from different backgrounds are living separate lives in modern ghettos then it’s no good for anyone.
“We must confront the myths about immigration that extremists use to drive divisions.
“We know that they use immigration as a proxy for race. Sweeping plans to cut immigration as if it’s automatically bad can add to the stigma.”
He added: “Only by talking about this can we show how much integration enriches our communities.
“An integrated society is a strong one.
“This multi-layered approach will help us tackle extremism.
“This is not just a job for the Government alone. But we will lead from the front.
“It takes the whole of society to challenge these vile views.”
Javid, who is supporting Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister has previously said politicians must be more responsible in their choice of language – referring to the Tory frontrunner’s comments likening women in full face veils to letterboxes.
This morning he said: “I have known Boris to be a passionate anti-racist.”
Harris Bokhari, a grassroots expert in Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), welcomed Javid’s speech. He said: “It is important the home secretary highlighted the growth of far-right extremism and how this fuels other forms of hate in our society, only working together, each playing our part, can we root out hate from our communities.”