Prevent Watch

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The Muslim News: When are terrorist attacks not terrorist attacks?

Authorities are quick to label terrorist attacks as such. But why did they take so long to call the bombing of an immigration processing building a terrorist attack when the perpetrators hateful views had been broadcast online? And why have the UK prime minister and home secretary so far not said a word about this when it is the role of the authorities to condemn terrorist attacks? An editorial in The Muslim News highlights how counter terrorism police delayed classifying the October firebombing of the Western Jet Foil immigration processing centre in Dover as a terrorist incident despite being called in to lead the investigation. Moreover, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declined to comment, as did the newly reinstated Home Secretary, Suella Braverman. They have been deathly silent ever since. The terrorist attack targeting immigrants occurred at a time when Braverman had provocatively described illegal immigration as an out-of-control invasion. Braverman […]

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PROP: The Trojan Horse Affair is key to understanding why government’s idea of ‘British Values’ is wrong

Following the Trojan Horse Affair in Birmingham and the collapse of the Department of Education’s attempt to ban teachers under claims that they had an Islamist agenda, the 2015 version of Prevent, the UK government’s counter extremism strategy, included a statutory duty on schools to promote ‘British values’. This became part of the national curriculum on the back of the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair, a deeply problematic precursor to any notion of ‘British values’. During this event it was claimed that teachers at Park View School were guilty of ‘Islamicising’ the school. In fact, no charges of extremism were brought against teachers, and the cases against the senior leadership team collapsed due to an ‘abuse of process’ by lawyers acting for the Department of Education, including non-disclosure of relevant evidence. The Trojan Horse Affair demonised an outstanding Muslim-majority school and made it the means to justify the teaching of ‘British […]

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The House: The counter extremism problem and the Prevent policy

As human rights groups call for an overhaul of the government’s counter extremism policy, Prevent, what might we see in the Home Office’s long-awaited independent review? Laura Hutchinson, writing for The House – a cross-party publication reporting on Westminster – notes that the most common Prevent referral is under “extreme right wing” radicalisation (46 per cent), followed by concerns about those with a mixed, unstable, or unclear ideology (30 per cent), and Islamist radicalisation (22 per cent). Despite this, “Islamist terrorism”, she says, accounts for the majority of terrorism-related convictions, with 68 per cent of prisoners in custody for terrorism being Muslim. Hutchinson notes that “many Muslim groups raise concerns that Prevent leads to their communities being seen only through a security lens, and could lead to the policing of culturally conservative views or political opinions”. Source: The Problem With Prevent

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RSE and the Prevent counter-extremism policy: what parents are asking and why it matters

I spoke about Prevent to parents who had gathered for something that may seem unrelated to counter-extremism: the changes in the curriculum with regards to Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and their concerns about refraining from participating in discussions regarding this aspect of their children’s schooling. When surveyed on why they did not want to participate in RSE discussions, 3.4% of parents said it was because of Prevent, adding to the growing body of evidence that proves the UK government’s counter-extremism policy has a self-censoring effect on education. Even though Prevent Watch has not seen cases of referrals in relation to RSE, we have seen a case where a child was referred to Prevent for saying that homosexuality was against his religion. This led to an interrogation by counter-extremism and policy. The fears of parents are many and enough in the normal journey of raising children today. Surely their education […]

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Birmingham Live: Muslim cops want term ‘Islamist’ removed from counter terrorism policy

The National Association of Muslim Police is now publicly calling for an update of policing and counter terrorism terminology, with the term Islamist to be replaced by ‘anti-western extremism’ or something similar. It has also raised concerns about the disproportionate number of Muslims being referred to Prevent, the government’s counter extremism programme – with the West Midlands among the highest. Alex Gent, Chairman of the NAMP says Islamophobia remains an issue in wider UK policing. The group cited cases where Muslim officers had been referred to Prevent wrongly by their own colleagues after religious pilgrimages or following acceptance of Islam. The group says it has previously raised concerns over the use of ‘Islamist’ and ‘Islamism’ with police chiefs and politicians, including with former Home Secretary Priti Patel. But it has now gone public after no agreement to drop the words. Source: Muslim cops label counter terrorism policing ‘Islamophobic’ – Birmingham […]

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The PROP Expert View: The Prevent policy in the UK’s love-hate with the far-right

The claim to target the far-right was a red herring to bring Muslims on board with the Prevent policy in the UK. Now, the government is saying that to target the far-right would be to police “mainstream” views shared by many in government. What is going on? We discussed this with Surviving Society as part of their Legacies of the War on Terror podcast series. Our podcast included why the long-delayed William Shawcross Review of Prevent will recommend more focus on the Muslim community, despite recommendations from counter terrorism experts to keep focus on the “far-right” and “incels”. We also talked about some of the the far-right cases that we have seen at Prevent Watch among children, and how they could have been dealt with differently, avoiding trauma to children and families. The positioning of the far-right as part of “defending British values” is quite clearly supported by people like […]

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The Guardian: How many far-right terrorist attacks until the government admits a problem?

After counter-terrorism police finally concluded that a firebomb attack on a migrant centre in Dover last week was the latest in far-right terrorist attacks in the UK, crucial questions arise about the coverage of it and the reaction from government, says Miqdaad Varsi, director for media monitoring at the Muslim Council of Britain. The day after the bomb, the home secretary appeared to go out of her way to say that the attack was not being treated as terrorism. This is despite the fact that the perpetrator had tweeted that he planned to “obliterate Muslim children” an hour before his attack. The attacker referenced Tommy Robinson, repeatedly wrote about Muslim “grooming gangs” and shared content from far-right Islamophobic groups. Despite all this, there have been no column inches from counter-terrorism ideologues and most national newspapers didn’t give the attack front-page prominence the next day. Source: Britain had a far-right terrorist […]

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PROP Expert View: How Prevent is excusing far-right agendas in government

In the second snippet from a talk given as part of the Scarman Lecture at the University of Leicester, Prof. John Holmwood, outlines why the designation of ‘British values’ as ‘British’ is problematic, and asks whether they are in fact shared by certain figures influential in counter-extremism policy. These include Robin Simcox, designated head of the  Commission for Countering Extremism and controversial Home Secretary Suella Braverman, both of whom display an agenda is seemingly at odds with the substance of ‘British values’ which include ‘tolerance for different faiths and beliefs’. Source: Scarman Lecture 2022: How Prevent disguises far-right influence in government – The People Review of Prevent

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The Independent: Government drops work towards official Islamophobia definition

Reappointed communities secretary Michael Gove opposes settling on a definition of Islamophobia, claiming it would bring ‘dangers’. The Independent’s home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden writes on Twitter that “Gove said he wanted to target “political Islam”, which he called a “virus”. He claimed there was “resistance in Whitehall”. Source: Government drops work towards official Islamophobia definition promised to combat anti-Muslim hatred in 2019 | The Independent

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The Guardian: Over 1000 BAME names removed from ‘disproportionate’ police list

More than 1,000 young men who were on a controversial Met police list even though they were classed as posing little or no risk of violence, have been removed. Current Metropolitan Police chief Mark Rowley said the list of alleged gang members “amplified disproportionality” and must be radically reformed. The gang violence matrix was branded part of a “racialised war” on gangs by Amnesty International and was found potentially to be breaching data laws by the information commissioner and placed men on it who should not have been there. Those on it could be subject to “Al Capone-style” disruption tactics, such as losing housing, or driving licences, as part of “lawful harassment”. Source: Met police chief to reform list of alleged gang members targeting black men | Metropolitan police | The Guardian