Prevent Watch

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The New Arab: Muslims mourn the Queen under Prevent’s watchful eye

Afroze F Zaidi writes about how counter-narrative against the outpouring of grief emerged from those hailing from former British colonies, not about the loss of a monarch they knew from a distance, but articulating the collective and individual pain for which the monarchy is responsible. But this counter-narrative was absent among many Muslim organisations. For British Muslims, counter-terror and anti-extremism measures such as Prevent work hard to ensure that they stay in line. So an occasion such as the Queen’s death isn’t an opportunity for sincere reflection or honesty – rather it serves as a test of loyalty. Source: Muslims mourn the Queen under Prevent’s watchful eye

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The New Statesman: Britain needs a new paradigm approach to extremism

Attacks by individuals like Jake Davidson, the 22-year-old man who shot dead five people in Plymouth last year, before turning the gun on himself, prove that the greatest emerging threat is not Islamist, but in a rapidly expanding set of so-called mixed, unclear and unstable (MUU) extremism cases that defy neat categorisation by authorities. A large element of this rapid growth has seen Prevent referrals inheriting much of the case load of young people with “complex needs” from underfunded local services. Data from 2021 suggests up to 70 per cent of people referred to Prevent may have mental health issues, and growing numbers of MUU referrals suggest practitioners are struggling to classify these cases within frameworks built to handle clear-cut ideological categories. Events like those in Plymouth speak to a more disparate set of extremism-related threats than the current government approach can capture. They require a new paradigm of response. […]

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Middle East Eye: Tory leadership race shatters hopes for a more tolerant Conservative Party

While the UK’s governing party appears to be celebrating ethnic diversity, it continues to attack religious liberty, write Imran Mulla and Peter Oborne. Tolerance, rightly practised, extends beyond support for ethnic diversity. British multiculturalism, traditionally understood, has entailed the recognition of diverse religious communities – and today, it is under threat, and for British Muslims, the Conservative Party is a hostile force. Source: Tory leadership race shatters hopes for a more tolerant Conservative Party | Middle East Eye

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Popular Science: What is the UK-US Data Access Agreement?

An agreement between the United States and United Kingdom to improve cross-border law enforcement data sharing will go into effect later this year, the two nations announced in a joint statement. They will now be able to directly request data like messages and pictures, for example, from telecommunications providers in the other’s jurisdiction. The non-profit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation has previously criticized the foundational idea of data sharing with cross-border law enforcement as “a dangerous expansion of police snooping”. Source: What is the UK-US Data Access Agreement? | Popular Science

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The PROP Expert View: Prevent is a tool for a new secular authoritarian future

Prevent’s “pre-crime” “risk-based” legal architecture delivered in the name of “keeping us safe” will bring an authoritarian future. Since the introduction of Prevent, the number of “non-violent” terrorism (itself an oxymoronic term) offences have increased – and we can expect more of them.Prevent continues to operate within, and sustain, its own legal hinterland – both in terms of criminalisation and generating activity in a newly defined “pre-crime” space. To justify such developments, a campaigning political landscape as opposed to a landscape of good governance is required and is indeed, being vigilantly fostered. We hear legal experts saying that the problem with Prevent and other policies lies firstly – and crucially – in their legality under British due process, as well as their common sense. But these are opinions are being ignored. Into this steps Islamophobia as a kind of “wedge” issue behind which the government has been able to gather […]

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The Guardian: Thinktank that briefed against XR given $30k by ExxonMobil in 2017

Report shows Policy Exchange, which is registered as a charity, called for criminalisation of climate group, previously received money from oil firm. A thinktank registered as a charity that received money from an oil company, later published a report that advised the government to criminalise Extinction Rebellion in its tough new crime laws. Several Conservative MPs and peers cited the 2019 report by Policy Exchange in parliament and the home secretary, Priti Patel, repeated its claims about the climate campaigners being “extremists”. Many of the report’s recommendations, including “to strengthen the ability of police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass law-breaking tactics”, later appeared in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act. Source: Thinktank that briefed against XR given $30k by ExxonMobil in 2017 | Extinction Rebellion | The Guardian

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An Islamophobic security agenda shouldn’t mix with arts funding

The last few days have seen a furore over the Bradford literature festival’s decision to accept funding from the Home Office. Some 12 speakers have pulled out of the event so far, in protest at the source of the money, the government’s “Building a Stronger Britain Together” fund, a scheme that supports projects that supposedly counter extremism. As a result of the row, reputational damage has been done to this award-winning festival. Let’s be clear why this has happened: the government refuses to engage with Muslim communities in a meaningful way – unless it is under the auspices of counter- extremism or counter-terrorism. Why does funding offered to Muslim communities so often appear under this guise? We’ve also seen this in the form of the goverment’s terrible Prevent counter terror strategy, which is a toxic presence and is already under review. Read more

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Bradford festival boycott over counter-extremism funding

Many writers and activists have withdrawn from the Bradford literature festival (BLF), after it was revealed that the festival received funding from a form of the Government’s Counter-Extremism Strategy, Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSTB). BSTB is a Government programme that provides “funding and support for groups involved in counter-extremism projects in their communities”. [1] Part of the 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy, it operates alongside the PREVENT strategy and funds over 230 groups, as specified on the Government website. [2] [3] It is the first time that the festival has accepted the funding after its establishment in 2014. Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, a spoken word artist more publicly known as “thebrownhijabi”, was the first to withdraw from the ten-day festival. She announced her withdrawal on Wednesday through a statement on social media. Read more

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Six pull out of Bradford festival over counter-extremism funding

Six writers and activists have pulled out of the Bradford literature festival (BLF) in protest after it emerged it received funding from a government counter-extremism programme. The group withdrew from planned appearances after learning that the 10-day event, which was founded in 2014, has accepted money provided as part of the Home Office’s counter-extremism strategy for the first time. The Home Office programme, Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT), provides “funding and support for groups involved in counter-extremism projects in their communities”. Separate to the counter-terrorism Prevent strategy, BSBT is part of the 2015 counter-extremism strategy and funds more than 230 groups. Read more

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Bradford Literature Festival withdrawals: Prioritising principles over promotion

Within the past day, a number of scheduled participants for the Bradford Literature Festival have announced their withdrawal from the event, on account of the Festival’s acceptance of counter-extremism funding. These participants include poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, organiser Sahar Al Faifi, ex-NUS President Malia Bouattia, activist Lola Olufemi, authors Waithera Sebatindira and Hussein Kesvani – and all should be rightfully applauded for their principled stances. The Bradford Literature Festival had accepted funding from the Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT) fund, which comes under the 2015 Counter Extremism Strategy. The list of fundees of the BSBT strategy is publicly available on the Home Office website, and spans Muslim organisations as well as sports teams, cultural organisations, social enterprises and supposedly ‘antiracist’ groups such as Hope not Hate, Faith Matters and Show Racism the Red Card. Read more