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Written by Student Rights on 14 March 2013 at 2pm

The growing threat of far-right extremism

Yesterday Student Rights attended a speech given by the Security Minister James Brokenshire in which he announced the government’s commitment to challenging all forms of extremism, including that of the far-right.

Highlighting the way in which “groups such as the English Defence League [are] inflaming tensions and spreading hate-filled prejudice within communities”, he said:

Let me be clear - no matter what the threat, no matter what the brand of extremism – this government has said from the start we will not allow terrorists and extremists the freedom to go uncontested”.

He continued by stating that:

This Government utterly condemns the actions of the so-called defence leagues and their off-shoots.

We utterly condemn the offensive, anti-Muslim messages they promote.

They are divisive, and run contrary to the values of respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.

 Those values are the essence of our democratic system, and any attack on them is an attack on the basis of our society”.

The Minister also outlined a number of measures that the government is already taking on this issue, including challenging far-right extremism in high risk areas such as education institutions, banning extremist speakers from entering the UK, and opposing the spread of extremist content online.

Here at Student Rights we have highlighted the increasing presence of the far-right on the UK’s university campuses in the past year.

In October 2012 we released a briefing on the presence of a British National Party front called the ‘National Culturists’ at the University of Liverpool which outlined the group’s bigoted anti-Muslim views.

Since then we have reported on the group encouraging students to attend an English Defence League (EDL) rally, and on its calls for “student action”.

We also highlighted the way in which events featuring extremist Islamist preachers have been cancelled after threats from the far-right, and detailed the presence of EDL members on campus at the University of Reading.

In February 2013 we reported that Marine le Pen, the leader of the far-right French Front National had been invited to speak at the University of Cambridge, and were widely quoted in the media saying:

"Universities do have a duty to uphold freedom of speech, but they are no place for the promotion of fascist views, and university authorities have a duty of care to their students to protect them from those who would promote hatred".

Those who seek to challenge extremism in our society must recognise that the threat from the far-right is a growing problem which needs to be addressed.

We will continue to oppose the far-right whenever it appears on our campuses, and would urge students who face intolerance and harassment from such groups to contact us immediately.