A 14-year-old who requested to be excused from music, and who excels in both his secular and Islamic studies, is referred to Prevent without his parent’s knowledge.
AU was studying in year nine in a mixed state school. He regularly attends his local mosque, and takes a proactive approach in increasing his religious knowledge and his spirituality. Likewise, AU’s academic achievements are impressive, and he is a good student.
Although AU is the youngest in his family, his eldest sisters and parents see him as an inspiration because of this.
Music and being referred to Prevent
In March 2015, the school referred AU to Prevent, without the consent of his parents or guardian. Concerned to learn about the facts, AU’s sister contacted the school and asked for a formal meeting.
She was intensely angered by the situation, and could not comprehend how not taking part in music lessons warranted the school contacting Prevent, which is part of the counter-terrorism strategy.
In the meeting between AU’s sister and school teacher, it was made clear that the only grounds for referring the case to Prevent was due to AU not “proactively participating” in music lessons.
It is clear that AU deems there to be a tension with music and his interpretation of Islamic practice, hence he does not wish to partake in music lessons.
No consent from parents
AU’s case must raise questions about the evidential basis of a Prevent referral: how does not engaging in a music lesson become a marker for “radicalisation” which assumes a risk of potential violence?
This incident raises concerns about unwarranted data collection, which can negatively impact young individuals’ otherwise successful lives.
The fact that no consent was sought from AU’s parents shows how Prevent is operating “under the legal radar”, without the appropriate checks and balances in place to protect the rights of the individuals referred and their families. This is especially the case for children’s rights.
This is a common trend, suggesting that there may well be several cases across London where parents have no knowledge that their children are being questioned by Prevent personnel.
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