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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The PROP Expert View: Changes to Prevent prove the policy is a political tool

There are many indications in the government’s restructuring of Prevent, that the policy is a political tool. The first is the refocusing of the Home Office on Prevent in its security aspects. The second is the new interim head of the CCE, Robin Simcox, who was appointed in March 2021. Simcox has strong links with neo-conservative and far-right think tanks. His first announcement was the need to redefine the policy toward right-wing extremism to distinguish far-right groups who operated within the law which, he claimed, were part of normal democratic politics. Thirdly, a recent report from Policy Exchange recommends that the role of the CCE should be “research into extremism, countering criticisms, and evaluating and providing certification for NGOs”. Expectedly, their only targeted organisations are Muslim NGOs. Source: Underplaying the far-right proves Prevent is political – The People’s Review of Prevent

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CAGE Survey: Ukraine vs Palestine solidarity in UK schools

In a survey based on over 500 responses, CAGE exposes the hypocrisy of the British government in its support for Ukraine, while silencing advocacy on Palestine. While the British public has been treated to an outpouring of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians, along with occasionally bizarre spectacles – such as Tory leader-elect Liz Truss declaring her support for Britons going to fight Russia live on TV – during Israel’s 2021 attack on Gaza, under Prevent, schools securitised support for Palestine, advocating restraint and reporting. In the CAGE report, 96% of survey responses confirmed support for Ukraine by their schools, 62% indicated their schools had fundraised for Ukraine, and a small number of schools raised funds to donate military equipment, and/or to donate to organisations linked to the Ukrainian far-right. See the full report here.

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Gal-dem: Prevent is criminalising Muslims who seek mental health care

The anti-terrorism programme is having devastating consequences for minority communities seeking mental health services. Through the lens of suspicion, Prevent turns the therapeutic space, which should be a place of safety, into a manifestation of some of the worst fears that people accessing these spaces harbour – the fear of being watched, followed and targeted. Source: The Prevent duty is criminalising Muslims who seek mental health care

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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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The Guardian: Sunak is wrong – and he’s chosen the wrong target

The contender’s plan is idiotic and dangerous. Aren’t Tories supposed to champion free speech, says Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain. The implication of his proposals seems to be that any public sector worker covered by the Prevent duty would be required to refer anyone they believe is “vilifying” to the authorities. Would this include nationalists in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, some of whom would readily vilify England? If not, why not? What about writers within our mainstream media, in publications such as the Spectator? Would Sunak’s policy include those who have non-mainstream political views on our nation’s colonial history? Source: Sunak wants to punish those who ‘vilify the UK’. That’s wrong – and he’s chosen the wrong target | Miqdaad Versi | The Guardian

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The Guardian: Former counter-terrorism police chief attacks Sunak’s Prevent plans

Rishi Sunak’s proposals to strengthen the government’s anti-terrorism programme risk “straying into thought crimes” and are potentially damaging to national security, a former senior police chief has said. Such proposals would lead to more people being referred to Prevent by widening the definition of “extremism” to include those who “vilify” Britain, with Sunak pledging to focus on “rooting out those who are vocal in their hatred of our country”. But former counter-terrorism chief Sir Peter Fahy, who was also chief constable of Greater Manchester police, questioned the precise meaning of “vilification”. He said: “The widening of Prevent could damage its credibility and reputation. It makes it more about people’s thoughts and opinions.” Source: Former counter-terrorism police chief attacks Rishi Sunak’s Prevent plans | Rishi Sunak | The Guardian

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Gov.UK: Robin Simcox appointed as Commissioner for Countering Extremism

The Home Office has confirmed the appointment of Robin Simcox as the substantive Commissioner for Countering Extremism (CCE). His tenure will last for a three-year period. Simcox’s appointment has been agreed by the Home Secretary Priti Patel. Previously, Simcox has dismissed the use of the term “Islamophobia”. He also worked for a US far-right think-tank The Counter Extremism Group. Simcox said Extinction Rebellion, Unite Against Fascism and the far left “need monitoring”. Source: Robin Simcox appointed as Commissioner for Countering Extremism – GOV.UK

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5Pillars: How Prevent targets Muslim school children

In this eye-opening episode of the Blood Brothers Podcast, Dilly Hussain speaks with the director of advocacy group Prevent Watch, Dr Laila Aitlhadj, about the UK government’s controversial counterterrorism ‘Prevent’ strategy. Topics include what Prevent is supposed to do and what it is actually doing, in particular to young people. The podcast also covers its effect on adults employed in the public services and makes particular mention of why it is incompatible with Islamic values, and its effect on Muslim belief. Source: Blood Brothers #84: Prevent and the UK Government’s targeting of Muslim school children – 5Pillars