Prevent Watch

The Prevent strategy is out-of-step with the UK’s many communities of belonging

The Prevent strategy of counter-extremism policy is out of step with the realities of British society, and its placing of religious communities of belonging under suspicion is counter-productive to genuine, long-term social stability. In the People’s Review of Prevent we show that Prevent is Islamophobic; reputable academic studies have shown that there is no problem of integration of British Muslim communities. Prevent has always been unjustly directed towards Muslims. Cases illustrate that Prevent sees “far-right extremism” as a problem of individuals rather than the beliefs of the wider British community. Twenty years ago, the Runnymede Trust argued in the Parekh Report that Britain was plural in its national community, but there were significant inequalities. The report proposed that British identity should be understood in terms of multiple histories of belonging, and that all communities had a right to participate in its definition. Why does Prevent silence Muslims in particular? Despite this, Prevent seeks to manage both the form of participation of the individual in the social fabric of Britain and what is expressed by communities, especially by Muslims. In doing so, Prevent in its language and tools undermines free expression by defining as ‘extremist’ views and actions that are not in themselves illegal, but which the government has stigmatised. But there is no evidence that these so-called “extremist” but lawful ideas lead to violence. It has becoming increasingly evident that what is ‘extremist’ and what is not, is defined within a notion of “fundamental British values” that is itself narrow and politicised. It is also oddly out of touch with the diversity of our national communities. Violating our own stated values in the process In this, Prevent is an abuse of fundamental human rights and protected equalities, especially those preventing discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnicity, and religion. The government proposes that terrorist activities threaten human rights, and yet it breaches them in its own Prevent policies and evades scrutiny. Furthermore, Prevent ‘expertise’ is being shared with oppressive regimes, including those who oppress their Muslim populations. Any expansion of Prevent must be seen as a broader drift towards nationalist authoritarianism and must be resisted. It will not do to reduce long established human rights; this cannot be seen as progress, and it cannot be seen as part of any set of “British values”. Read the full People’s Review of Prevent HERE.

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