Open Letter: Redefining ‘Extremism’

FAO: Michael Gove, James Cleverly, and Rishi Sunak

We, the undersigned, wish to raise our deep concerns regarding the Government’s reported plans to redefine ‘extremism’.

These plans follow a pattern of legislative and policy attempts to erode the freedom of speech and the right to protest. Ultimately, by expanding the already subjective understanding of ‘extremism’, there are legitimate concerns that these proposals work to undermine political opposition through curtailing the free speech and political participation of those who oppose Government policies.

The UK is obliged under the HRA and numerous international treaties, such as the ICCPR, to protect and respect human rights. As these proposals have been reported, they potentially breach the UK’s domestic and international human rights obligations, especially in regard to freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and protection from discrimination.

As such, we urge the Government to:

  • Abandon plans to redefine ‘extremism’.
  • Strengthen its consultation processes and ensure that policy development meaningfully engages with civil society.
  • Reverse its trajectory of the erosion of human rights through legislative and policy changes.
  • Support and strengthen active citizenship and democratic engagement through open debate and participation.
  • Commit to avoiding divisive and demonising rhetoric, especially in the context of the general election.


Isobel Ingham-Barrow, Community Policy Forum

Declan Owens, Ecojustice Ireland

Kyle Taylor, Fair Vote UK

Mark Kieran, Open Britain

Dr Ismail Patel, Friends of Al-Aqsa

Dr Sohail Hanif, National Zakat Foundation


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