Much ink has been spilt on the “Independent” Reviewer of Prevent and his (un)suitability in the role. The People’s Review of Prevent was set up precisely because the government has no credibility to genuinely lead a review which would fundamentally examine Prevent from the vantage point of both protecting the rights of people and the country’s security.
Under the auspices of credible academics, individuals working with people impacted by the policy, with significant endorsements, and with utmost integrity to the point that even those who have worked for Prevent are not excluded, The People’s Review of Prevent has now published its findings. And, to the asphyxiation of the charlatan Prevent industry, the findings and conclusions are fundamentally damning for Prevent.
Having examined the submissions, academic literature, and actual case studies related to Prevent, Professor Holmwood and Dr Aitlhadj conclude that despite the far-right spin, Prevent is Islamophobic and discriminatory in the way it operationally mistreats Muslims.
They also find that Prevent undermines human rights and equality despite claiming to fight terrorism, by:
- Profiling Muslims by targeting Muslim-populated areas disproportionately
- Abusing the rights of children and displacing the primary concern of protecting their welfare.
- Abusing privacy and data protection rights, where young Muslim children and their data are stored as if they are criminals, often without their knowledge.
- Undermining freedom of expression by effectively curtailing legal views and actions.
They further found that Prevent undermines the safeguarding obligations of social workers, teachers, and health professionals, by the creation of the “British values” curriculum determined by security interests (schools—especially Muslims schools—must take note).
The report also stressed that there is no basis for regarding Muslims with suspicion. Prevent measures across sectors, the review claims, have “no justification in the light of national security requirements”.
In short, one gets the impression from the independent review that Prevent is an Islamophobic, oppressive policy that has no basis academically, nor in national security requirements.
Read the op-ed by the report’s chairs here: Newly released list of Prevent Priority Areas proves the policy is oppressive at the core
More shocking cases of inhibiting Islam
The report brings to light specific disturbing cases which have previously not been made public. What the cases show is that Prevent acts in a manner that discourages both the adoption and practice of Islam. Though each cited case is mandatory reading, and I encourage all to pay close attention to them, two are worth reproducing here.
The first relates to an ordeal faced by a Muslim woman, Sarah, who had accepted Islam and married a Muslim man overseas. Her parents reported her to the police, who forwarded details to Prevent and the Channel deradicalisation intervention programme without consent. Sarah was questioned about her “British values” – as if her acceptance of Islam was at odds with being British:
“It didn’t feel like they were questioning my British values at all; really the questions were all around my Islamic values… I kept having to justify myself even though I had done nothing wrong. Before my conversion to Islam, would somebody ever question my British values? Or would they accept that I am a British born and bred gal? But now, even as a British and English person who decided to practice the Islamic faith, my values are being called into question… the definition of being ‘against British values’ was clearly about me being Muslim.”
Another example of intimidation and harassment is directed at Muslim children in the context of their faith. Ibrahim, a 12-year-old Muslim secondary school child, was referred to Prevent by his school despite insisting he had articulated his religious view on homosexuality as prohibited. Ibrahim was later questioned by a Prevent officer on his own, in the absence of his parents or any social workers for half an hour, where the child was threatened with a criminal record and loss of educational and job opportunities. Shockingly, the officer also made statements undermining the relevance of the Qur’ān in modern society and warned the child not to say everything that is on his mind. The parents of the child state:
“My child has been very distressed by the whole experience… he was being treated like a criminal.”
Disturbingly, Ibrahim now has his name on criminal databases even though the police admit that he is not a criminal suspect.
Muslims working for and with Prevent
What are we to make of such cases? Prevent’s purpose and modus operandi is apparently to create an environment in which Islam is suppressed, or at least, shaped towards one which is gutted of its core and replaced with something palatable to western liberal sensibilities.
I address these practitioners, deradicalisation mentors, and facilitators of Prevent directly and ask questions that are long overdue: how can any Muslim actively work under Prevent, and facilitate its objectives, when those very objectives ultimately demonise Islam as a cause of terrorism and assume the Muslim—even a child—as a potential terrorist?
The report notes that Britain is exporting Prevent – a tool to suppress dissent – to tyrannical regimes like India and China that are terrorising Muslim populations. Does your conscious not tug and strain in the knowledge you are working with a policy that, at the level of presupposition, concords with the brutal anti-Islam policies effected by oppressive regimes? Or have you sold your soul in exchange for a pay-check from the Home Office or local council?
With the publishing of the People’s Review of Prevent report, the situation where Muslims work for or facilitate Prevent is no longer tenable.
Working for Prevent conflicts with Islam – a forthcoming report
If it is not apparent already, there is a conflict between being a Muslim and actively working with and promoting Prevent. Theologically speaking, Prevent contravenes key Islamic precepts in its aims, logic, and operation.
The Muslim blog Coolness of Hind, which has been exposing anti-Muslim policies anonymously for 9 years, will be launching a report into this very subject, inshāAllāh. The report will capture the purpose, the people, the anti-Islam and Muslim case evidence, and a theological analysis of the logic of Prevent to demonstrate the root and branch incompatibility with Islam.