Prevent Watch

A Decade Lost: Rethinking Radicalisation and Extremism

This report fundamentally encourages a rethink of commonly held theories related to radicalisation and extremism.
Authored by Dr Arun Kundnani and published in March 2015, its suggestions still hold relevance today, when the official narrative on the causes of individuals gravitating towards violence, remains problematic.
The report holds that:
  • The official narrative holds that terrorism is caused “extremist” ideology and that “extremism is defined as “opposition to British values”, but a growing body of academic work shows this to be incorrect.
  • To prevent terrorism, according to this narrative, the government should intervene and “demand allegiance to British values”.
  • Policy based on this narrative is at best partial and at worst counterproductive.
A better account of the causes of terrorism would acknowledge that:
  • radical religious ideology does not correlate well with incidents of terrorist violence;
  • terrorism is best understood as the product of an interaction between state and non-state actors;
  • the factors which lead someone to commit acts of terrorism are complex and cannot be reduced to holding a set of values deemed to be “radical”; and
  • there is little evidence to support the view that there is a single cause to terrorism.
Rather than a broad policy that seeks to criminalise or restrict opinions deemed to be “extreme”, a better approach is to:
  • focus on individuals who can be reasonably suspected of intending to engage in a terrorist plot, finance terrorism or incite it;
  • widen the range of opinions that can be freely expressed, not restrict them;
  • end the Prevent policy to avoid nurturing a new generation of antagonised and disenfranchised citizens.

The report is available in .pdf form HERE.

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