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Opinion: It took a hoax and the hijacking of a school to embed Prevent in education

Dr Layla Aitlhadj, the director of Prevent Watch, argues in 5 Pillars that the hoax Trojan Horse Affair which turned the lives of Muslims in Birmingham upside down was rooted in a preconceived Prevent agenda. The Trojan Horse hoax (as it came to be known) relates to a letter that was anonymously sent to Birmingham City Council officials outlining a plot by “Islamists” to take over schools. The source of the letter and its real modus operandi should have been the subject of investigations, and then dismissed as most likely a malicious means of distracting from some dubious, localised problems at one school. Instead, the letter was taken up as “truth” by then Education Secretary Michael Gove, who then oversaw the decimation of Muslim achievements in Birmingham and ruination of the lives of Muslims, young and old. This happened despite Gove knowing weeks before appointing Peter Clarke to “investigate” the […]

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UK must address discrimination concerns over Prevent, UN expert says

The Independent’s Lizzie Dearden reports that Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism has warned that the People’s Review of Prevent, has raised questions about its “pre-criminal” interventions over radicalisation concerns. “The data provided underscores the critical need to directly attend to deep concerns about discrimination, stigma, de facto criminalisation of individuals, particularly children, privacy violations, intrusion on the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs, and negative impact on the right to education, health, and participation in public affairs for targeted individuals, primarily Muslims,” she added. “It is my sincere hope that this report will enable a broader and necessary conversation to take place about the operation of the current Prevent strategy in the UK.” urce: UK must address discrimination concerns over Prevent counter-extremism programme, UN expert says | The Independent

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PROP: Trojan Horse hoax led to ‘abuses’ of children

The Middle East Eye’s Simon Hooper reports that the People’s Review of Prevent reveals that the extension of the Prevent programme into schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse Affair has led to children being targeted in ways that amount to abuses of their human rights. The People’s Review of Prevent also cited new evidence suggesting that the Home Office is continuing to rely on profiling of Muslim communities in allocating Prevent resources, with almost three-quarters of Muslims in England and Wales living in “priority areas”. The report describes Prevent as “ineffective, disproportionate, and discriminatory” against Muslims. It suggests that the strategy is undermining values that it purports to promote such as tolerance and free expression and says that it has been “overwhelmingly directed at children and young people where it represents an abuse of their rights”. It cites examples including an eight-year-old boy who it says was asked […]

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The People’s Review of Prevent launches as an alternative to Shawcross-led review

The People’s Review of Prevent, co-authored by Prevent Watch, presents an alternative to the review conducted for the government by William Shawcross and is being launched tomorrow. Among the report’s crucial findings is that Prevent is directed primarily at children and young people. The People’s Review of Prevent finds that children and young people make up around half of all referrals. This includes children at nursery and primary schools. Prevent is described as ‘safeguarding’ children from harms. However, under Prevent, safeguarding is focused on protecting the wider public from children believed to be ‘risky’, rather than protecting children from harms. Throughout our report we present case studies that show how real these harms can be and the distress they cause to children and their families and carers. Source: The People’s Review of Prevent

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Muslim Council of Britain calls for independent inquiry into the Trojan Horse Affair

The Middle East Eye reports that The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has called for an independent public inquiry into the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair, following fresh revelations about the case in a recent New York Times podcast. The MCB said it warned authorities at the time of the hoax alleging an ‘Islamist plot’ to take over schools, to not be “side tracked by culture wars initiated by divisive commentators”. It rejected the findings of a government report on the issue. “This podcast reveals the deep-rooted nature of institutional Islamophobia in the UK. Each episode is a damning indictment of how narratives and tropes were perpetuated to feed a story of moral panic, in which Muslims are centre stage,” Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the MCB, said. “We call for an independent public inquiry into the Trojan Horse case, and a public apology from those who ignored the truths presented to […]

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New podcast trails the mystery letter that unleashed the Trojan Horse Affair

‎ Serial Productions and The New York Times presents a 9-part series in which journalist Hamza Syed and reporter Brian Reed, the host of S-Town, follow the strange trail of events that led to the Birmingham ‘Islamist plot’ school hoax, commonly known as The Trojan Horse Affair. A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives. To Hamza Syed, who is watching the scandal unfold in his city, the whole thing seemed … off. Because through all the official inquiries […]

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