Prevent Watch

Community group’s speakers ‘Islamist’ but no evidence why

islamist speakers prevent university censorship

Speakers at a community organisation’s event were deemed to be “Islamist” and the event was cancelled, even though neither the local authority or the university hosting the event provided any evidence of this.

IE is a grassroots community organisation which seeks social and spiritual renewal. Through the Islamic ethos enshrined within the organisation, members of IE are obliged to be full and active participants in society in order to benefit their local community. The organisation has affiliates throughout the United Kingdom.

IE has been negatively impacted through the application of the Prevent duty by the local authority. This has caused number problems for IE when they have organised events.

A number of their events have been cancelled or revised because of the pressure applied by Prevent officers to venue operators.

During an event at a university in Greater London, IE were due to host a number of speakers. The university cancelled the event on the grounds that they were “Islamists” after pressure from the local authority.

However, IE were not provided any reasonable reasons as to why the university felt it necessary to cancel the event. They did not provide IE any grounds or evidence to support the assertion that IE was an “Islamist” organisation or how they contravened any laws or policies of the university.

The cancellation of IE’s event displays a number of concerns regarding the operational application of Prevent by local authorities. It is unfortunate that a university complied with the pressure applied by the local authority, even though an evidentiary threshold for illegality was never provided.

Although IE went through the relevant checks and balances to book a lecture theatre at the university and acted in accordance with the requirements of the university, this was not enough.

Rather, the use of the term “Islamist” was enough to cause anxiety and apprehension on the part of the venue holders.

Photo by Madrosah Sunnah/Unsplash

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