Spooked: pamphlet on failures of ‘Prevent’

Arun Kundnani of the Institute of Race Relations has published a pamphet, Spooked: How Not to Prevent Violent Extremism (PDF), on how the government’s “Preventing Violent Extremism” programme has turned into an intelligence gathering exercise, in which educators and youth workers were encouraged to tattle on people regarding so-called ‘extreme’ opinions regardless of whether they were actually involved in terrorism. A summary is published in the Guardian today:

Researching the programme myself over the last six months, I discovered that a range of agencies – such as schools, colleges, youth and community services – in areas with significant Muslim populations are expected to gather intelligence about the young people they work with. Youth workers, for instance, are under pressure to provide to counter-terrorism units detailed information about those whose religious and political opinions are considered extremist – a vague term that can include things like religious literalism or anger at British foreign policy. Muslim youth workers who have been unwilling to involve themselves in this kind of information sharing, because of legitimate concerns about professional confidentiality, have themselves come under suspicion and, in at least one case, become the target of a smear campaign.

The government describes Prevent as a community-led approach and believes that by selectively directing resources at moderate Muslim organisations to carry out community development and anti-radicalisation work it can empower them to unite around shared British values to isolate the extremists. While the government denies the programme has a surveillance element, this is contradicted by its adviser Ed Husain of the Quilliam Foundation, who says intelligence gathering is a part of Prevent. He also believes it morally right that professionals such as teachers should alert the authorities to those who hold views considered extremist. Indeed, through its Radicalisation Awareness Programme, the foundation is receiving significant public funds to advise local authorities on how extremist views among Muslims can be identified by public service workers.

Also see this report from last Friday’s paper, including a video interview with ‘Ed’ Husain of the Quilliam Foundation and Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty. It should be noted that ‘Ed’ and his gang were never trusted by the community and that Quilliam were a media invention; he is known to just repeat his tales of woe to the media rather than responding to the community’s questions. I notice we’ve heard less of him the last year or so — perhaps that’s because Hassan Butt exposing himself as a liar made all the other celebrity ‘former extremists’ seem less credible?

(More: Islamophobia Watch - [1], [2], Inayat Bunglawala.)

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