Prevent Watch

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Prevent: Government’s counterterrorism programme is ‘single biggest threat’ to free speech at universities, report finds

The single biggest threat to free speech on university campuses is the government’s counterterrorism Prevent programme, a report has claimed. Written and published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) the papers says that despite “strong rhetoric supporting free speech in universities”, the “current single biggest threat to free speech on UK campuses currently comes from the government’s own Prevent programme”. Read more

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An Islamophobic security agenda shouldn’t mix with arts funding

The last few days have seen a furore over the Bradford literature festival’s decision to accept funding from the Home Office. Some 12 speakers have pulled out of the event so far, in protest at the source of the money, the government’s “Building a Stronger Britain Together” fund, a scheme that supports projects that supposedly counter extremism. As a result of the row, reputational damage has been done to this award-winning festival. Let’s be clear why this has happened: the government refuses to engage with Muslim communities in a meaningful way – unless it is under the auspices of counter- extremism or counter-terrorism. Why does funding offered to Muslim communities so often appear under this guise? We’ve also seen this in the form of the goverment’s terrible Prevent counter terror strategy, which is a toxic presence and is already under review. Read more

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Bradford festival boycott over counter-extremism funding

Many writers and activists have withdrawn from the Bradford literature festival (BLF), after it was revealed that the festival received funding from a form of the Government’s Counter-Extremism Strategy, Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSTB). BSTB is a Government programme that provides “funding and support for groups involved in counter-extremism projects in their communities”. [1] Part of the 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy, it operates alongside the PREVENT strategy and funds over 230 groups, as specified on the Government website. [2] [3] It is the first time that the festival has accepted the funding after its establishment in 2014. Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, a spoken word artist more publicly known as “thebrownhijabi”, was the first to withdraw from the ten-day festival. She announced her withdrawal on Wednesday through a statement on social media. Read more