May attends anti-extremism summit

Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Home Secretary Theresa May will join Barack Obama at a Washington summit on tackling international violent extremism, called by the US president in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris.

The international conference comes within days of the murder of two people by a suspected Islamist extremist in Danish capital Copenhagen and the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya.

But the White House has been forced to defend the decision not to single out Islam-inspired terrorism for attention at the conference, which will also discuss threats from other sources.

“You can call them what you want; we are calling them terrorists,” a senior administration official told reporters. “We are not treating these people as part of a religion.”

Vice-president Joe Biden opened the summit by meeting mayors from the cities of Los Angeles, Boston and Minneapolis/Saint Paul, which have each been running pilot studies on deterring extremism in local communities.

Mr Obama is due to speak to the conference from the White House today, then address guests including Mrs May and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the State Department tomorrow.

The conference is expected to produce an action plan leading up to a second meeting ahead of the opening of the UN General Assembly in September.

Announcing plans for the summit in January, the White House said the event would “highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalising, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the United States and abroad to commit acts of violence”, building on a strategy produced by Mr Obama in 2011 to prevent violent extremism domestically.

The summit will focus on the themes of “community engagement, religious leader engagement, and the role of the private sector and tech community” to “better understand, identify, and prevent the cycle of radicalisation to violence at home in the United States and abroad”, said a White House spokesman.

Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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