Prevent Watch

Ideology, utopia and Islam on campus: How to free speech a little from its own terrors

This journal article acknowledges the presence of Islam and campus and the presence of Prevent. Authored by Alison Scott-Baumann – who sits on our advisory panel at the People’s Review of Prevent – it calls for free speech as the answer to polarising conditions. Published by the journal Education, Citizenship and Social Justice in July 2017, it argues that:
  • The presence of Prevent universities is to create an ideology of fear around Muslims and Islam, and a policy of no-platforming creastes a utopian, idealised atmosphere that seeks to reduce dissent.
  • Self-censorship and no-platforming are reducing the diversity of opinions expressed at universities, yet there is no evidence of illegality on campus.
  • The free speech issue is the key to ‘Prevent’ which suppresses opinions that are different from the dominant
    government narratives.
The challenge is to free speech from both establishment ideology and student utopia, between which a vacuum must be filled with discussion so that “others cannot colonise it with stories that inspire fear and suspicion”. In the same way, the author argues that “a vacuum exists naturally between laws (that set norms) and state guidance on laws (application)” – and states that “if we do not negotiate the contents of this vacuum, it will be filled with the bureaucracy of fear and even a state of exception”. The author concludes that it is discussion, debate and questioning that are required to “understand our current cultural imagination and develop a better one”. The journal article is available HERE. Related resources Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash.

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