Anti-extremist policy targeting UK Muslims successfully appealed


Anti-extremist policy targeting UK Muslims successfully appealed

The UK’s so-called ‘counter-extremism’ Prevent strategy has always been a controversial policy. Not only have its negative consequences been felt and condemned in the United Kingdom, but its inherently flawed basis has been exported across the globe in the form of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategies. Now an important judgment from the UK Court of Appeal has begun to tentatively turn the tide against Prevent, particularly in UK universities where it has had a chilling effect on students’ ability to have open discussions on important issues.

Prevent is one of the four strands of the UK 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 the government defined as the opposition to ‘British values’.

Despite successive attempts to enforce Prevent using legislation, compelling more and more arms of the state and public sector to engage with it, the strategy is possibly now more toxic than ever before. As a policy it has been rejected by both the National Union of Students, and the National Union of Teachers (now called National Education Union), criticized by the British Medical Associationcountless human rights groups, legal experts, politicians and hundreds of academics, even drawing condemnation from many UN representatives including Special Rapporteurs for racism, privacy and freedom of assembly. The pressure has finally forced the government to launch an independent review into Prevent, which is cautiously being welcomed by critics, depending on how impartial it will be.

The first is that it is based on pseudoscience, namely the belief that something called ‘extremist’ ideology causes terrorism, despite the wealth of peer-reviewed scientific research to the contrary. The second issue is that Prevent is inherently racist and discriminatory. As one racial equality organisation in England put it, Prevent is “built on a foundation of Islamophobia and racism”, and as a criminology lecturer wrote in The Guardian: “[It] gives people permission to hate Muslims.”

The UK Home Office’s own published statistics showed that—despite Muslims representing five percent of the population, and accounting for less than five percent of terrorism across the UK, 65 percent of Prevent referrals were of Muslims, with 95 percent of those referrals being unnecessary. Muslims are 40-50 times more likely to be referred to Prevent than non-Muslims. This is partly why some academics such as Professor David Miller have said that the sprawling counter-terrorism apparatus is one of the “five pillars of Islamophobia” in the UK, and possibly beyond…

Source: TRTWorld

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