Case study – SB
SB is a Muslim woman who took a year off from work as an Administration officer at an NHS hospital in London on medical grounds. During her time away, SB became more devout and began practicing her faith. She also began wearing the headscarf (hijab). On her return to work, there were accusations made by senior management that SB had mental health issues because she was now more devout and was adhering to her faith. PREVENT officers subsequently visited her in the work place and asked her for her view on politics, terrorism and religion, and expressed an interest in her Facebook profile. SB’s parents were also questioned on the state of her mental health. Eventually, the PREVENT officers issued a report to NHS senior management explaining that SB had mental health problems, though mental health specialists later denied this claim. The whole experience of having her faith questioned and scrutinised made SB feel violated. It is worth citing her words at length:
“I feel that the visit to my professional place of work is a violation of my privacy which is unacceptable when I could have been contacted either by phone, in writing or in person. Work should not have been an option, definitely not a first option.
My second complaint is that once I went home I looked at all my statuses on Facebook and could not find one status that incited or encouraged illegal behaviour.
Most of my posts either related to my children or would ask everyone to pray for the people of Syria and elsewhere in the Muslim World where there is turmoil.
I am rather perplexed to say the least, as to:
1. Why I was visited at my place of work as a first option
2. And for what reason as I can see nothing on my page being of concern or inciting illegal behaviour.
I am a law-abiding citizen and I feel that my rights
are being violated and that I am being discriminated against due to my faith. It is already made difficult for me to adorn Muslim attire due to fear of being labelled and attacked in public by people who have a phobia of Islam and Muslims.”
It seems clear that the practice and outward exercise of her faith through the taking up of the hijab was being used by SB’s senior colleagues to indicate radicalisation. This is despite seminal academic research by Marc Sageman, for example, showing that there is no correlation between religiosity 2010. Secondly, it can make them internalise the negative words and ideas being associated with them, which can create a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. In such a case, an individual becomes more likely to become what they are constantly being accused of – radicalised. PREVENT watch strongly believes that any action taken by the authorities based on racial and/or religious profiling serves to undermine community relations and trust. PREVENT watch strongly urges security and police authorities to therefore reconsider their approach on such matters.