Advocacy group CAGE has said it opposes any attempts to resurrect or re-brand Prevent or put it in the hands of Muslim organisations, in the light of the Muslim Council of Britain’s announcement that it would offer an alternative to the counter-terrorism programme.
CAGE said the problem with Prevent is not who is delivering it, but the fact that it is based on flawed theories and bogus “science” – as well as its clear danger to civil society.
They called on all Muslim organisations and civil society groups to join its calls to scrap Prevent entirely because it leads to discrimination, family trauma, lack of due process and the violation of rights, including of free speech and association. It also threatens the right to dissent, thereby standing a real chance of causing political violence rather than countering it, CAGE said.
Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE, said: “Prevent is a politically-motivated programme that seeks to control belief and behaviour, limit debate and discussion in academia, and dilute civil society into a force that is no longer able to question and challenge the government. This has to be opposed no matter who delivers it.
“Proposals for a ‘grassroots-led’ counter-terrorism programme are unfortunate attempts to rescue the government narrative, which reinforces the idea that terrorism is a Muslim problem when statistics show that this is not the case. It is also an attempt to get Muslims to take ownership of what is the result of wider societal problems and ongoing aggressive foreign policy, while the government remains blameless.
“CAGE will continue for the total repeal of Prevent with partners in wider civil society and a reversal and an undoing of the ideas that have been embedded amongst professional practice, regardless of who is implementing it. We call on all Muslim organisations to act with us as equal citizens and not pander to what is at heart an Islamophobic agenda.”
“Alternative” counter terror strategy
CAGE’s comments come after the MCB said on Thursday that an ongoing national consultation with Muslim leaders and community organisations had unearthed the need for a sincere response to the threat of terrorism.
In a statement the MCB said: “At forums across the country there has been a widespread concern that Muslims are singled out as potential extremists. Having Muslims pass subjective and discriminatory counter-extremism litmus tests, as a condition of engagement, only re-enforces the terrorists’ narrative.
“The Prevent strategy exacerbates this problem and it is quite clear that it does not currently have the support of many within British Muslim communities across the UK and has been widely criticised by academics and practitioners, yet the threat of terrorism is real and severe.
“Many ideas have been put forward on what communities and government should do together to confront and pre-empt terrorism. These we hope to detail in our final report. But there seems to be a consensus in Muslim communities that our security services and police must always bear ultimate responsibility to keep our nation safe and secure. We are grateful to the security services and police for their tireless efforts in keeping us all safe. Their work should be evidence-based, and focussed on the real threats such as support for terrorism, or travel to aid terrorists abroad.”
Meanwhile, there are signs that the pro-Prevent Establishment is not pleased with the MCB’s move.
The right-wing Times newspaper criticised the MCB in an editorial yesterday for its “hostility” to the Prevent strategy and “its desire to undermine it.”
And Haras Rafiq, of the Quilliam Foundation, said there was a danger that the MCB was going to add to the misconception that Prevent is a spying project that is in some way hostile to Muslims rather than trying to keep us all safe.