School of Oriental and African Studies: Radicalism:Written question - HL13007

Asked on: 22 January 2019
Department for Education
School of Oriental and African Studies: Radicalism
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the report by the Henry Jackson Society Extreme Speakers and Events: In the 2017–18 Academic Year, published on 21 January, that SOAS University of London has hosted 70 events that were addressed by extremist speakers; whether they have discussed that report with SOAS; if so, what was the outcome of any such discussions; and what steps they intend to take in response.
Answered on: 01 February 2019

​There is no place for extremism in our society and extremist views should be exposed and challenged.

The Department for Education has not engaged with any institutions, including SOAS University of London, in relation to the Henry Jackson Society report.

The government believes that free speech should been encouraged, provided that it is within the law as it encourages debate and understanding. Challenging extremist speakers and events is an important part of tackling extremist narratives. However, this does not mean closing down lawful speech, but rather ensuring the right steps are taken to counter extremist narratives and make sure that those who wish to spread hatred do not go unchallenged.

The Prevent duty requires higher education institutions to ensure they have mitigated the risk of extremist speakers spreading harmful narratives before an event can go ahead.

​The Equality and Human Rights Commission is developing new guidance on freedom of speech in higher education, which will be published shortly.

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