Prevent Watch

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Newly released list of Prevent Priority Areas proves the policy targets Muslims

By injecting funds into the oppressive Prevent programme in areas with high concentrations of Muslims, the government can no longer claim that it is unbiased against Islam, says Prevent Watch’s Dr Layla Aitladj in Islam 21C. The People’s Review of Prevent reveals for the first time hard evidence that Prevent is Islamophobic and discriminatory. Amongst the evidence which contributed to this conclusion, was our discovery of the locations of “Prevent Priority Areas” or PPAs, which have been in existence since 2007. PPAs are areas of England and Wales in which the delivery of the Prevent Strategy has been designated as a priority. They do not exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since 2011, information concerning PPAs has remained a secret. The last known disclosure of the areas was from the Prevent Strategy guidance document. Since then, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests asking for disclosure of the PPA’s were repeatedly denied […]

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Opinion: It took a hoax and the hijacking of a school to embed Prevent in education

Dr Layla Aitlhadj, the director of Prevent Watch, argues in 5 Pillars that the hoax Trojan Horse Affair which turned the lives of Muslims in Birmingham upside down was rooted in a preconceived Prevent agenda. The Trojan Horse hoax (as it came to be known) relates to a letter that was anonymously sent to Birmingham City Council officials outlining a plot by “Islamists” to take over schools. The source of the letter and its real modus operandi should have been the subject of investigations, and then dismissed as most likely a malicious means of distracting from some dubious, localised problems at one school. Instead, the letter was taken up as “truth” by then Education Secretary Michael Gove, who then oversaw the decimation of Muslim achievements in Birmingham and ruination of the lives of Muslims, young and old. This happened despite Gove knowing weeks before appointing Peter Clarke to “investigate” the […]

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UK must address discrimination concerns over Prevent, UN expert says

The Independent’s Lizzie Dearden reports that Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism has warned that the People’s Review of Prevent, has raised questions about its “pre-criminal” interventions over radicalisation concerns. “The data provided underscores the critical need to directly attend to deep concerns about discrimination, stigma, de facto criminalisation of individuals, particularly children, privacy violations, intrusion on the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs, and negative impact on the right to education, health, and participation in public affairs for targeted individuals, primarily Muslims,” she added. “It is my sincere hope that this report will enable a broader and necessary conversation to take place about the operation of the current Prevent strategy in the UK.” urce: UK must address discrimination concerns over Prevent counter-extremism programme, UN expert says | The Independent

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PROP: Trojan Horse hoax led to ‘abuses’ of children

The Middle East Eye’s Simon Hooper reports that the People’s Review of Prevent reveals that the extension of the Prevent programme into schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse Affair has led to children being targeted in ways that amount to abuses of their human rights. The People’s Review of Prevent also cited new evidence suggesting that the Home Office is continuing to rely on profiling of Muslim communities in allocating Prevent resources, with almost three-quarters of Muslims in England and Wales living in “priority areas”. The report describes Prevent as “ineffective, disproportionate, and discriminatory” against Muslims. It suggests that the strategy is undermining values that it purports to promote such as tolerance and free expression and says that it has been “overwhelmingly directed at children and young people where it represents an abuse of their rights”. It cites examples including an eight-year-old boy who it says was asked […]

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The People’s Review of Prevent launches as an alternative to Shawcross-led review

The People’s Review of Prevent, co-authored by Prevent Watch, presents an alternative to the review conducted for the government by William Shawcross and is being launched tomorrow. Among the report’s crucial findings is that Prevent is directed primarily at children and young people. The People’s Review of Prevent finds that children and young people make up around half of all referrals. This includes children at nursery and primary schools. Prevent is described as ‘safeguarding’ children from harms. However, under Prevent, safeguarding is focused on protecting the wider public from children believed to be ‘risky’, rather than protecting children from harms. Throughout our report we present case studies that show how real these harms can be and the distress they cause to children and their families and carers. Source: The People’s Review of Prevent

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Muslim Council of Britain calls for independent inquiry into the Trojan Horse Affair

The Middle East Eye reports that The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has called for an independent public inquiry into the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair, following fresh revelations about the case in a recent New York Times podcast. The MCB said it warned authorities at the time of the hoax alleging an ‘Islamist plot’ to take over schools, to not be “side tracked by culture wars initiated by divisive commentators”. It rejected the findings of a government report on the issue. “This podcast reveals the deep-rooted nature of institutional Islamophobia in the UK. Each episode is a damning indictment of how narratives and tropes were perpetuated to feed a story of moral panic, in which Muslims are centre stage,” Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the MCB, said. “We call for an independent public inquiry into the Trojan Horse case, and a public apology from those who ignored the truths presented to […]

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New podcast trails the mystery letter that unleashed the Trojan Horse Affair

‎ Serial Productions and The New York Times presents a 9-part series in which journalist Hamza Syed and reporter Brian Reed, the host of S-Town, follow the strange trail of events that led to the Birmingham ‘Islamist plot’ school hoax, commonly known as The Trojan Horse Affair. A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives. To Hamza Syed, who is watching the scandal unfold in his city, the whole thing seemed … off. Because through all the official inquiries […]

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Police minister rejects the need for ethics guidance on predictive policing technology

Claudia Glover writes in The Tech Monitor that the UK’s policing minister has rejected the suggestion that police forces might need ethical guidance in relation to emerging technologies. This, despite alarm from campaigners over live facial recognition and ‘predictive policing’. UK police forces are pursuing many of these technologies. Last year, the Mayor of London’s Office approved a new £3m “Retrospective Facial Recognition” system that will allow police to compare faces identified in CCTV footage against archival footage. “We have to be slightly careful not to stifle innovation,” UK policing minister Kit Malthouse Malthouse said, and that formal procurement frameworks “tend to be generally for more mature technology”. He said that while there could be room for regional bodies advising police forces on technology ethics, he would be “concerned about setting up a parallel ethics group” on a national level, as Parliament already serves that purpose. “In the end, aren’t […]

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Europol ordered to delete vast store of personal data

A Guardian investigation reveals that Europol, the EU police body, has been accused of unlawfully holding information and aspiring to become an NSA-style mass surveillance agency. An article co-authored by Apostolis Fotiadis, Ludek Stavinoha, Giacomo Zandonini, and Daniel Howden reveals that Europol will be forced to delete much of a vast store of personal data that it has been found to have amassed unlawfully by the bloc’s data protection watchdog. The unprecedented finding from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) targets what privacy experts are calling a “big data ark” containing billions of points of information. Sensitive data in the ark has been drawn from crime reports, hacked from encrypted phone services, and sampled from asylum seekers never involved in any crime. According to internal documents seen by the Guardian, Europol’s cache contains at least 4 petabytes – equivalent to 3m CD-Roms or a fifth of the entire contents of […]

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Why Europe’s Muslims are braced for France’s stint running the EU

There is concern that the country’s divisive anti-Muslim political discourse will seep into the union’s institutional policymaking, says Shada Islam in the Guardian. The French election campaign essentially means it is open season on Muslims in France, writes Islam. Many French politicians have adopted rampant Islamophobia as an electoral strategy. Toxic debates on Islam and Muslims, mixed with acrimonious intersectional swipes at race and migration, are becoming increasingly venomous. Alarmingly, Muslim-bashing is no longer the preserve of the far-right anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen. Macron’s hardline interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, accused Le Pen, during a recent television debate, of going “soft” on Islam. Macron himself, who is expected to seek re-election, is already enforcing a spate of anti-Muslim policies, including a bill supposedly aimed at preventing “separatism” and the emergence of a “counter society” among France’s six million Muslim citizens. Macron’s government is also under criticism for shutting down the […]