A leading human rights group in Yorkshire has published a report criticising the UK Government’s controversial Prevent strategy, stating that it is “built on a foundation of Islamophobia and racism”.
The report published by JUST Yorkshire entitled “Rethinking Prevent: A Case for an Alternative Approach”, is based on 36 interviews with students, faith leaders, teachers and academics.
The report stated that Prevent is “ineffective and counterproductive and should be withdrawn”.
It added: “A reliance on stereotypes which can be seen in the fact Muslim communities are often regarded as collectively suspect, whilst far-right extremism is downplayed”.
The report documented numerous human rights abuses through the implementation of the Prevent strategy, which it claimed targeted mainly British Muslim men and activists for their dissenting views.
Prevent is one of the four elements of CONTEST, the UK Government’s flagship counter-terrorism strategy.
It claims that it is aimed at stopping people “becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.”
In the interviews, respondents expressed deep concerns about Prevent’s disproportionate and discriminatory focus on Muslim communities.
The report states that “practitioners from some institutions are interpreting their responsibilities under the umbrella of Prevent as a requirement to focus their attention on Muslims.”
The Home Office responded to the report saying it was one of a number of reports to “peddle falsehoods and create myths”.
Hifsa Haroon Iqbal, a Prevent coordinator also questioned its methodology, saying the report was “confusing”.
She said: “To base your judgement on an interview with 36 people, to state what actually is very much more opinions from newspaper reports and to claim that a strategy that has been working for a number of years is broken, I think, is misrepresenting it and is confusing people.”
However, the report used interviews to gather qualitative data.
Studies on the same topic in prominent academic journals have used few interviews while applying the same methodology.