Prevent Watch

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David Cameron endorses report tied to man he called ‘Muslim no-go zone’ “idiot” and ‘neo-Nazi’

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Byline Times that the former Prime Minister has put his support behind a new Policy Exchange report targeting Muslim civil society groups as ringleaders in the ‘enabling’ of terrorism. A new report claiming that critics of counter-terrorism policy are “enabling terrorism” is closely connected to a ‘white genocide’ believer who worked for a far-right conspiracy theorist whom former Prime Minister David Cameron called an “idiot” for describing Birmingham as a ‘Muslim no go zone’. The report by the Policy Exchange think tank is also linked to a coalition of European far-right parties, including the Sweden Democrats – a party with “neo-Nazi tendencies”, according to the current Israeli Ambassador to the UK. Its publication reveals how far-right ideologues are successfully attempting to use influential centre-right think tanks to mainstream their worldviews through the language of national security and counter-extremism. Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism: The Activist Campaign to Demonise Prevent […]

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Britain’s Trojan Horse: A hoax that still harms children

Ex-chair of Park View Educational Trust Tahir Mahmood Khan, writes for Al Jazeera that the Trojan Horse hoax served to legitimise, legalise, and institutionalise a discriminatory culture against Muslim children. In 2014, sensationalist headlines circulated in the United Kingdom about an alleged Muslim plot to take over schools. The so-called “Trojan Horse” involved “extremists” infiltrating Birmingham to “sow terrorism” in young minds. As the then chair of the Park View Educational Trust, which ran three of the schools in question, I suddenly found myself in the centre of a media storm, subjected to a multitude of government inspections and inquiries looking into alleged improprieties. It was a classic moral panic. Subsequently, all of our schools were deemed failures, despite having been ranked as outstanding before. They were placed under “special measures”, which created the possibility of removing senior leadership in the accused institutions. Of course, we rejected the supposed findings […]

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Meeting told how Trojan Horse Affair has ‘left a scar’ in Birmingham

The Birmingham Mail reports that although not one MP accepted an invitation to a panel discussion on the fallout of Trojan Horse affair, the event gave people a safe space to speak about the ‘scars’ it left. Birmingham’s Trojan Horse affair is ‘not over for us’, with its impact still reverberating through Muslim communities. That was the standout message at a panel discussion into the issue organised by city mosques. Around 100 Brummies, mostly Muslim, attended the event at the University of Birmingham as part of the ‘Under the Lens’ series of talks examining social issues, organised by mosques across the region. This event was coordinated by the university’s Islamic Society and Chaplaincy. Despite the organisers’ best efforts, none of the city’s MPs or councilors accepted an invitation to take part. But that gave panelists the opportunity to air their opinions in what had become by default a safe space […]

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Prevent is hindering environmental and anti-racism movements too, new research finds

Rights and Security International (RSI) has published a new report that starkly reveals the ways in which the government’s Prevent strategy hinders free speech and discourages non-violent political activism across the United Kingdom. New research shows that Prevent is creating a climate in which anti-racism, environmental justice and peace campaigners, among others, censor themselves. Community activists and political campaigners interviewed for the research reported feeling unable to debate political issues freely without fear of being referred to Prevent. Interviewees who do engage in nonviolent action described examples of being censored by state authorities, including by being denied public platforms to speak, having venues closed and being refused opportunities for funding. Such self-censorship and fears of outright government censorship were consistent across all participants, irrespective of whether they defined themselves as Muslim or non-Muslim. For example, a former teacher cited in the report argued ‘The significant reason for me stopping teaching […]

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New report seeks to answer if PREVENT is compatible with Islamic principles of due process

What is the Islāmic view of PREVENT? In other words, is PREVENT compatible with Islam? This is a question that makes perfect sense to ask once raised and one that a new report seeks to answer. Since its inception in 2003, there has been little discussion on the validity of PREVENT and interaction with it from an Islāmic perspective. This is a curious omission, given that PREVENT has been imposed on Muslims for nearly two decades now. Instead of a critical engagement with PREVENT as a policy, Muslims, and especially Islāmic scholars, have been used by PREVENT and “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) programs more broadly, as tools to implement pre-crime counter-extremism. In fact, scholars have even tried to give PREVENT and CVE legitimacy through a questionable application of theology. Our report, ‘PREVENT, CVE, and Pre-crime – Through an Islāmic Lens,’ subjects PREVENT to Islām. It seeks to understand the political […]

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Is Priti Patel trying to militarise counter-extremism in Britain?

An ex-Royal Marine Special Forces operations planner turned spy agency consultant is advising on the appointment of the next top counter-extremism commissioner, reveals Nafeez Ahmed in another ground-breaking investigation for the Byline Times. The Government panel that will be deciding on the appointment of the next Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism includes a former senior military officer who is a veteran of the Afghan and Iraq invasions. The former colonel now consults for overseas intelligence agencies and advises a private security firm specialising in “covert surveillance”. The Home Office assessor, Col. (ret) Robert Graham Cundy, is a former Royal Marine and British Army Special Forces officer who played a senior role in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since retiring from the British Army, Cundy has contracted for various UK government departments including providing “capability training packages for overseas intelligence agencies,” according to his biography published […]

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Priti Patel urges MPs to back anti-protest laws

The Independent’s Jon Stone reports that Priti Patel has written to MPs urging them to back controversial anti-protest legislation after it was rejected by the House of Lords. Peers inflicted a string of defeats on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill last month after critics said some of its measures would effectively ban some non-violent protests. The mammoth bill was defeated over plans to give new powers to police to stop disruptive protests, and on a separate clause which would have imposed noise restrictions on demonstrations. Peers also torpedoed new powers that would make it illegal for protesters to lock themselves to things, and that would give police powers to stop and search those who they suspect of taking part in illegal protests. Labour’s Lord Hain had called the move “the biggest threat to the right to dissent and the right to protest in my lifetime”, while the Green […]

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New government rules on ‘political impartiality’ in schools will chill free speech

John Lubbock writes for Left Foot Forward that new government guidance on ‘political impartiality’ has been criticised for seeking to chill discussion of political subjects. On February 17, the UK government released a report on ‘Political Impartiality in Schools’. The document effectively tells teachers how they should talk about ‘sensitive issues in the classroom in a politically impartial way’. The guidance has some disturbing aspects which seek to neuter teachers and suppress real discussion about topics like the British Empire, Black Lives Matter, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. The document reminds teachers of their legal duty to be impartial. The law prohibits the “promotion of partisan political views” and says teachers “should take steps to ensure the balanced presentation of opposing views”. Partisan views are those which seek to “further the interests of a particular partisan group, change the law or change government policy”. This leads to some strange ideas about […]

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Newly released list of Prevent Priority Areas proves the policy targets Muslims

By injecting funds into the oppressive Prevent programme in areas with high concentrations of Muslims, the government can no longer claim that it is unbiased against Islam, says Prevent Watch’s Dr Layla Aitladj in Islam 21C. The People’s Review of Prevent reveals for the first time hard evidence that Prevent is Islamophobic and discriminatory. Amongst the evidence which contributed to this conclusion, was our discovery of the locations of “Prevent Priority Areas” or PPAs, which have been in existence since 2007. PPAs are areas of England and Wales in which the delivery of the Prevent Strategy has been designated as a priority. They do not exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since 2011, information concerning PPAs has remained a secret. The last known disclosure of the areas was from the Prevent Strategy guidance document. Since then, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests asking for disclosure of the PPA’s were repeatedly denied […]

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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 […]