Theresa May says proposed commission will 'confront the menace of extremism'

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A new Commission for Countering Extremism proposed by Conservatives will have a remit to clamp down on "unacceptable cultural norms" such as female genital mutilation, as well as acting to ensure that women's rights are upheld in all of Britain's ethnic and religious communities, Theresa May has said.

Mrs May was spelling out further details of the commission proposed in the Conservative manifesto for the June 8 general election, which will have the task of helping government identify policies to defeat extremism and promote pluralistic values.

Experts have suggested that suicide bomber Salman Abedi's decision to target a pop concert attended by teenage girls may have been driven in part by radical Islamists' opposition to the freedoms enjoyed by women in Western societies.

And the Prime Minister made clear that the commission will be expected to stand up for women's rights in context where extremism often goes hand in hand with poor treatment of women and girls.

A Conservative government would give the commission teeth by making it a statutory body with a legal responsibility to identify extremism and support people and organisations in resisting it, she said. It will advise the government on new criminal offences and policies to defeat extremists and will offer assistance to public sector bodies in identifying extremism and stamping it out.

It will also be required to be proactive in promoting Britain's "pluralistic" values and to tackle non-violent extremist activities which undermine social cohesion and deprive individuals of the rights and expectations they are entitled to as part of British society.

Mrs May said: "Britain is one of the world's most successful multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural societies. But our enjoyment of Britain's diversity must not prevent us from confronting the menace of extremism, even if that is sometimes embarrassing or difficult to do.

"Extremism, especially Islamist extremism, strips some people of the freedoms they should enjoy, undermines the cohesion of our society, and can fuel violence. And it can be especially bad for women.

"There is clearly a role for government in tackling extremism where it involves behaviour that is or ought to be criminal. But there is also a role for government to help people and build up organisations in society to promote and defend Britain's pluralistic values, and stand up to the extremists who want to undermine our values and impose their twisted beliefs onto the rest of us. That is what this plan is all about.

"Enough is enough. We need to be stronger and more resolute in standing up to these people."