Important to have tools to tackle rise in extremism: UK PM Rishi Sunak

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London, Mar 13 (PTI) British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday said his government is committed to having tools in place to tackle a rise in extremist activity that is seeking to hijack the country’s democratic institutions.


Addressing Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons, the British Indian leader alluded to reports of a new definition of extremism set to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday and stressed that the new strategy would not impact free speech. The new measures are expected to ban groups or individuals who promote an ideology based on intolerance, hatred or violence and clearly set out which groups and individuals the UK government can support or fund.

“There has actually been a rise in extremist activity that is seeking to hijack our democratic is important that we have the tools to tackle this threat," said Sunak.

"This is absolutely not about silencing those with private and peaceful beliefs, nor will it impact free speech, which we on this side of the House will always strive to protect," he said.


The comments follow a joint statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, warning the new expanded definition of extremism poses a risk to the country’s Muslim communities.

Their statement reads: “The new definition being proposed not only inadvertently threatens freedom of speech, but also the right to worship and peaceful protest – things that have been hard won and form the fabric of a civilised society.

“Crucially, it risks disproportionately targeting Muslim communities, who are already experiencing rising levels of hate and abuse.” The senior clerics of the church of England said they were concerned about the proposed strategy’s implications for public life in the UK.


“The UK has a proud history of welcoming people from all walks of life and celebrating diversity. We are a community of communities. Our leaders should cherish and promote that – and pursue policies that bring us together, not risk driving us apart,” they added.

The strategy, expected to be elaborated on Thursday, follows Sunak’s impassioned speech from the podium at 10 Downing Street in London earlier this month to warn that the country’s democratic and multi-faith values were under threat by extremists.

“The time has now come for us all to stand together to combat the forces of division and beat this poison. We must face down the extremists who would tear us apart,” he said, warning that “Islamist extremists and the far right feed off and embolden each other”.

“We will also act to prevent people entering this country whose aim is to undermine its values. The Home Secretary has instructed that if those here on visas choose to spew hate on protests or seek to intimidate people we will remove their right to be here,” Sunak added. PTI AK SCY SCY