(Sara Khan says online hate is a growing threat in the UK and more needs to be done urgently to address it.)


The Black Lives Matter movement has been aggressively exploited by the UK’s far right, which has recruited and radicalised people on the back of its success, the government’s chief adviser on extremism has warned.


Khan said that online extremism was a growing threat and more needed to be done urgently to address it.


She told the Observer: “Hate in our country has been spread through the digital space and we’ve got to do far more than we are now. How is it possible that this material is so easily accessible? Sometimes I pinch myself and ask: ‘Is this the 21st century?’”


The CCE’s first major report, published last October, found that far-right activists were exploiting community tensions across the UK by spreading hate against minorities.


However, Khan believes the situation has since worsened and that attempts to normalise extremist narratives hold the potential to “undermine the social fabric of our country.”.


(Black Lives Matter supporters in Oxford Street, London, on 21 June. Some police forces have confirmed a spike in political activity in direct response to the movement.)


Rightwing extremists, she added, had also been quick to exploit the coronavirus by disseminating a range of conspiracy theories, many of them Islamophobic and antisemitic. Khan cautioned, however, that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic was likely to increase the number of people vulnerable to extremist narratives.


“We’ve seen how extremists have exploited the pandemic, and my concern long-term is that we’re going to see significant increases in unemployment and local authorities with financial black holes. “There is going to be anger and resentment, and extremists will seek to exploit that,” said Khan, whose commission was set up by the Home Office but operates independently of ministers.


One solution to help avert such a scenario would be to overhaul the government’s current counter-extremist strategy and, in particular, address how toxic material was spread online.


“Every day that we don’t have an effective type of counter-extremism strategy in our country, we’re going to see people being radicalised into extremes. And they’re going to be recruited,” she said.