Islamophobia on campus, this time directed at a Muslim social sciences student based in London, is enabled by the anti-Muslim bias created by the counter-extremism lens of Prevent.
HH, a social sciences student based in London, was studying in the library, writing an essay on radicalisation. A lecturer at the university saw HH with two books on the topic of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which HH had been reading in the course of writing her essay.
The two books in question are considered two of the foremost pieces of work in the area of study; it would be necessary for any student to use these books when writing an essay on radicalisation in which ISIS was discussed.
The lecturer’s reaction at HH carrying the books was to remark “Oh! Don’t go joining ISIS will you?”
HH was shocked, and this was abundantly evident to the lecturer. The lecturer said that she was “joking”.
Later on in the day, a friend of HH’s attended a class which the same lecturer was teaching. At the end of the class, HH’s friend asked the lecturer a question. The lecturer then said to HH’s friend, “If you need someone to read your essay for you, why don’t you ask the Islamic State girl?”
HH felt that labeling someone as such could be detrimental to her studies and her future career. This was especially in the context of the recent passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (2015), where universities have been compelled to have “due regard to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.
HH’s case illustrates the academic climate in which the implementation of Prevent is taking place, where it is enabling individuals to be targeted due to their apparent religious identity.
This will invariably lead to the over reporting of individuals to Prevent, based on prejudices and misconceptions.