Prevent Watch

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UK’s charity regulator urged to investigate Policy Exchange over ‘anti-Muslim agenda’

Simon Hooper reports for Middle East Eye on a complaint to the Charity Commission, which calls for the think tank Policy Exchange to lose its charitable status. The UK’s charities regulator is being urged to investigate the Policy Exchange think tank for alleged racism and Islamophobia, over a report in which it accused Muslim critics of the government’s Prevent strategy of “enabling terrorism”. In a letter to the Charity Commission, the authors of a critical review of the UK government’s controversial counterterrorism strategy, the People’s Review of Prevent, called on the government to review the think tank’s charitable status, accusing it of “promoting vilification and even hatred” towards Muslim communities. “As a charity, Policy Exchange must remain non-partisan and be detached from government. Yet it would appear Policy Exchange is neither, acting primarily as a vehicle for political propaganda and anti-Muslim narratives,” said Layla Aitlhadj, a director at Prevent Watch, […]

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How a neo-conservative think tank defined British Muslims

In an exclusive extract from his new book The Fate of Abraham, award-winning MEE commentator Peter Oborne explains how Policy Exchange has helped to dismantle traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism in the UK, with Muslims its main target. In the wake of the calamity of the Iraq invasion of 2003, one might have supposed that the ideology which lay behind Tony Blair and George W Bush’s bloody misadventure would have been discredited. This has not happened. Neo-conservatism has continued to set the parameters for a great deal of policy discourse, and its supporters have continued to occupy many of the most prominent positions in British (and American) public life. There are a number of reasons for this resilience. In the UK, Policy Exchange, a London-based think tank, is one organisation which kept the neo-conservative flame burning. Though its public profile is small, it has exerted prodigious influence in political circles. […]

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REVEALED: The ‘woke’ media outfit that’s actually a UK counterterror programme

A social media network for young people that has been launched around the term “woke” is actually a covert British government counterterrorism programme, security officials have admitted. A Facebook page and Instagram feed with the name This Is Woke describes itself as the work of a “media/news company” that is engaging “in critical discussions around Muslim identity, tradition and reform”. In fact, it was created by a media company on behalf of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) at the UK Home Office. The OSCT is refusing to disclose information about the network, however, and will not explain the reason it was created, claiming that to do so would “prejudice the national security of the UK”. Read more

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Would you appoint Nigel Farage for a Brexit “independent” review?

Imagine if the government wanted an ‘independent’ review of Brexit, but proceeded to appoint Nigel Farage to conduct the review. To appoint someone so clearly in favour of Brexit would be completely absurd. Yet the government has appointed Alex Carlile[1]– a man who has made no secret of the fact that he is a supporter of Prevent – to be the so-called ‘independent’ reviewer for this harmful policy. Prevent and counter-extremism policy is generally suffering from a lack of support. It is like the dead parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch. It has become an ex-policy. It has ceased to ‘be’ – well, to be credible, at least. Read more

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Government appoints Prevent advocate to lead its professed ‘independent’ review

The British government has appointed Lord Carlile as its new ‘independent’ reviewer of the contentious counter-extremism strategy known as Prevent. The appointment of Lord Carlile as the lead investigator is in fact a re-appointment, as he was the same reviewer who approved of the Government’s failed strategy in 2011. Critics have suggested that the entire process of supposedly reviewing the strategy is a step towards legitimising Prevent. According to security minister Brandon Lewis, Lord Carlile “brings a wealth of experience and skills to this role. As the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, he showed independence and rigour and I am pleased he has agreed to lead this review.” [1] Many have stated that there is nothing independent nor transparent about appointing an investigator who supports Prevent. Lord Carlile has even propagated the programme’s discriminatory practices, making clear his stance on the policy multiple times and even making suggestions on […]

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Prevent reviewer is member of Home Office panel tasked with enforcing strategy

A lawyer appointed by the British government to review the Prevent strategy is also a member of a secretive Home Office committee responsible for enforcing the implementation of the contentious counter-extremism programme by public bodies. Lord Carlile, a former counter-terrorism legislation watchdog who also reviewed Prevent in 2011, was appointed by the Home Office on Monday to conduct the review. But Carlile’s membership of the Prevent Oversight Board and his past comments in support of the strategy have raised concerns about his ability to deliver a review that will be seen as genuinely independent by its critics. Read more

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CAGE condemns appointment of Lord Carlile as Prevent reviewer

Advocacy group CAGE has said the appointment of Lord Carlile as the “Independent Reviewer for Prevent” confirms that the entire review process is simply about legitimising the controversial counter terror policy. CAGE said the government has re-appointed the same reviewer who approved the current Prevent strategy and has close ties with the intelligence and security establishment. Many Muslim organisations, as well as human rights groups, unions and academics, have said Prevent is a thinly-veiled spying and monitoring exercise which targets the Muslim community. Asim Qureshi, CAGE’s Research Director said: “The core problem with Prevent is that it fundamentally skews the relationship between government and citizens. Muslims are the test community for a government whose long term aim is to bring about a closed society. Read more

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An upcoming review of the Prevent counter-extremism programme is at risk of becoming a “whitewash”

A coalition of 10 human rights and community groups, including Index on Censorship, have warned that an upcoming review of the Prevent counter-extremism programme is at risk of becoming a “whitewash”. The groups are urging the government to ensure that the review of Prevent is comprehensive and truly independent. Dear Rt. Hon Brandon Lewis, We write as a diverse coalition of human rights organisations and community groups concerned by the impact of the Government’s flagship counter-extremism strategy, Prevent, on fundamental rights, community cohesion and the delivery of public services. We welcome the Government’s commitment to establishing an independent review of Prevent under the auspices of the Counter Terror and Border Security Act 2019. [1] As the deadline for the announcement of arrangements for the Review approaches, we are writing to request that you take appropriate steps to ensure that it is genuinely independent of Government and that its Terms of […]

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Lord Alex Carlile QC to lead on independent review of Prevent programme

The Government has announced that Lord Alex Carlile QC has been appointed as the Independent Reviewer of the Prevent programme which safeguards vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism. Prevent is one of the four strands of the Government’s CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy. Back in January, the Government announced the creation of the Independent Review of Prevent as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act. Read more

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New NUS president: I will always be racially profiled

he new president of the National Union of Students (NUS) has called for the government’s Prevent anti-radicalisation strategy to be scrapped and has urged universities to do more to tackle the black attainment gap and racism on campus. In her first interview since taking up office last month, Zamzam Ibrahim said she had seen the impact of Prevent in universities first-hand, with events being cancelled and students being referred because of membership of the Palestinian or Islamic societies. She said her overarching aim as NUS president was to campaign for a fully funded, fully accessible education system that is seen as a public and social good. “That’s not an education system that includes surveillance of a particular minority group,” she said. Read more