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Lecturer dismissed for branding Prevent racist

Thousands have called for a lecturer from Sandwell College to be reinstated after he was sacked for writing on a Prevent poster. David Muritu is the Union College Union (UCU) branch secretary at Sandwell, as well as an experienced trade union representative. He has, in the past, played a significant role in negotiating a landmark pay deal for staff. [1]

Last Wednesday, Sandwell college dismissed David for gross misconduct because he wrote the word “racist” on a poster that promoted the toxic Prevent strategy. Although David admitted to and apologised for drawing on the poster, he was still dismissed. [2]

According to Paul Cottrell, the UCU acting general secretary:

“This heavy-handed, disproportionate response from the college is due to David’s trade union activities. We will not stand by as trade union representatives are victimised.” [3]

The UCU has warned that if the lecturer is not reinstated, that industrial action will be taken into consideration, as well as a protest that is planned to take place at Sandwell college on Friday.[4]

A petition set up by the UCU has reached more than 4500 signatures so far and is rising fast. The petition calls on the immediate reinstatement of David Muritu.

However, the college has stated that their decision to dismiss the math’s lecturer and terminate his employment was taken after a “thorough investigation into a serious disciplinary matter”. [5]

In January, ministers finally agreed to address the concerns over the impact of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy on British Muslim communities across the UK. As a result, the government announced an independent review of the Prevent strategy. [6]

Many groups have criticised, opposed, and called for the repeal of the Prevent strategy. This ranges from the National Union of Students (NUS), Federation of Student Islamic Students (FOSIS), the University and College Union (UCU), National Union of Teachers (NUT), several faith groups, academics, and activists. [7]

The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella organisation, has been one such group that has consistently called out the strategy. In a statement, it said:

“The Muslim Council of Britain today welcomed the acceptance by the government to launch an inquiry into the controversial Prevent strategy, which is part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy.” [8]

As well as several such groups, many cross-party MPs and even the Government’s own reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill QC, have opposed the Government’s strategy and even gone so far as saying terror laws in principle should be scrapped as they are “unnecessary”. [9]

A history of controversy

Prevent is one of the four strands of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy which is known as ‘Contest’. Unlike the other strands—which exist to deal with things related to actual terrorism—Prevent was created to combat “extremism”, which was defined as the opposition to “British values”. This was due to the misguided, ideologically-based belief—now rejected by the government—that something called “extremism” causes terrorism. [10] This underlying “radicalisation” theory still remains in Prevent vocabulary despite the government distancing itself from the refuted conveyor belt theory and the ERG22+ “extremism” risk factors that were once offered as justifications for the policy, before their “scientific” basis was condemned by 140 experts across the world off the back of a CAGE report exposing it as “pseudoscience”. [11] [12] [13]

The very essence of Prevent is based on ancient myths and stereotypes about the causes of non-White violence. As such, for many years, Prevent has been criticised as being Islamophobic and racist. It is said to have targeted the Muslim community and, over the years, its implementation has deteriorated civil liberties, thus restricting political opposition and constraining any possible room for essential dialogue within schools, colleges, and universities.

According to a report published by the racial equality organisation JUST Yorkshire, the Prevent strategy is having disturbing consequences on society. The report stated that the strategy is “built on a foundation of Islamophobia and racism”. The report also states that the strategy is “ineffective and counterproductive” and should be repealed. [14]

Independent organisation PREVENT digest calls for Prevent to be suspended and reviewed, describing the “evidence” underlying it “…as flawed and racist as early attempts to classify criminals by head shape”. [15] It adds that Prevent stifles debate, as attested by the Home Affairs Select Committee. [16]

The United Nation special rapporteur on racism stated that “the Prevent duty is inherently flawed, and expansion of a flawed program to cover more groups is by no means curative”. [17] This expresses that the targeting of Far-Right groups does not obfuscate the harm carried out by the Prevent strategy.

Figures published by the Home Office display an increase in Prevent referrals across the country, overwhelmingly targeting Muslims. 65% of the 7,631 referrals noted in the released figures refer to Muslims, despite being approximately 5% of the population. 56% of the total referrals were aged 20 or under, whilst a quarter of the referrals were of under-15s. Most of the referrals came from the Education sector, followed by the police. [18] [19]

Muslims comprise approximately 5% of the United Kingdom,[20] and less than 5% of the perpetrators of “successful and foiled” terror plots, [21] yet they are vastly overrepresented in the counter-terrorism matrix—from Prevent referrals to Schedule 7 stops and searches to “terrorism” convictions. Not only does this lead to unjustified fear and panic from the broader population but contributes to the alienation and disenfranchisement of many young or mentally vulnerable Muslims. [22]

This is one of the reasons that an increasing number of researchers and activists have been warning that Prevent is not just ineffective but actually counterproductive. A sense of alienation, disenfranchisement, experience of racist double standards, and so on, have long been significant empirically-determined causal factors involved in the likelihood of some people to be drawn into political violence and terrorism, emphatically not the non-violent beliefs and opinions—be they “radical” or not—that the Prevent programme has been focusing its attention on. [23]

















[15] Sian, Katy. 2017. “Born radicals? Prevent, positivism, and ‘race-thinking’.” Palgrave Communications 3 (1):6. doi: doi:10.1057/s41599-017-0009-0.

[16] House of Commons. 2018a. Home Affairs Committee: Hate crime and its violent consequences.

[17] OCHCHR. 2018. End of Mission Statement of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance at the Conclusion of Her Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. ONLINE: United Nations.



[20] According to the 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics.




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