Case study – AU
AU is a 14 year old teenager, and currently studying in year nine in a mixed state school. AU is a devout Muslim, and regularly attends his local mosque, and takes a proactive approach in increasing his religious spirituality. Although AU is the youngest in his family, his eldest sisters and parents see him as an inspiration because of his attempts to increase his religious practices. AU’s academic achievements are impressive, and he is a good student. However, in March 2015, the school referred AU to a PREVENT officer, without the consent of his parents or guardian. Concerned to learn about the facts, AU’s sister contacted the school and asked for a formal meeting. She was intensely angered by the situation, and could not comprehend how not taking part in music lessons warranted the school in contacting PREVENT. In the meeting between AU’s sister and school teacher, it was made clear that the only grounds for referring the case to PREVENT was due to AU not proactively participating in music lessons. It is clear that AU deems there to be a tension with music and his interpretation of Islam, hence he does not wish to partake in music lessons. AU’s case illustrates how there is no real ground for referring an individual to PREVENT. It must also be questioned on what evidential basis not engaging in a music lesson is a marker for radicalisation/ extremism. The fact that no consent was sought from AU’s parents or guardian in referring him to PREVENT – even during his mandatory schooling hours – illustrates how PREVENT is operating under the radar and without the appropriate checks and balances. This is a common trend that PREVENT watch has observed in other cases too and suggests that there may well be several cases across London where parents have no knowledge that their children are being questioned by PREVENT personnel.