Having published a report examining PREVENT, CVE and Pre-crime from an Islamic Lens, Abdullah Noorudeen from Coolness of Hind speaks to Muslims who champion, defend, and work for PREVENT to warn them about the spiritual crisis they are in.
PREVENT – Britain’s counter-extremism policy – is a fact of life in the UK. There are an estimated 5.7 million public sector workers according to the Office for National Statistics. With the so-called “Prevent Duty” often translating into public sector workers being trained up in PREVENT to spy on people, this means there are potentially millions indoctrinated into the discredited, intrinsically discriminatory, and Islamophobic policy.
Muslims and PREVENT
By implication there are a lot of Muslims interacting with PREVENT too. Though there are a few ways this is happening, I address the Muslim PREVENT Person. I am not speaking to those hardened neocon bootlickers like former Quilliam Foundation employees and associates who have sold their Hereafter for a measly piece of the already rotting worldly pie.
Rather I speak to those who are sometimes derisively called “PREVENT-walas”. This cohort of Muslims actively work for PREVENT. They cheerlead it from the side lines of social media, and champion and defend it as an indubitable moral truth as if their salary depends on it. They enforce it by taking up roles as PREVENT Officers, regional coordinators, members of PREVENT Advisory Groups, and Channel mentors.
My address is to you who perhaps may be sincere, but have simply not considered – or even ignored – the frankly treacherous position you’re in.
PREVENT has spread like a virus. There is a certain “banality of evil” vibe to this current social predicament. But as Muslims, I assert this is not a predicament we should accept.
O Muslim PREVENT People, I present to you a fourfold Islam-conscious inquiry. An appeal to your hearts if you will.
A violent, Islamophobic context
The first thing I would like to draw your attention to is the political context and overarching objectives with which PREVENT was born. It is an undeniable fact that PREVENT was introduced off the back of the catastrophic War on Terror – an epitome of the Clash of Civilisation thesis that pitted Islam and Muslims as the enemy of the West. Since its inception it has seen millions of Muslim lives lost and destroyed abroad. Locally, Muslims have been detrimentally subjected to the counterinsurgency policy that is PREVENT. As academics have noted, the aim of this policy has been to change the beliefs of Muslims into liberalised apolitical ones. And the reason for this is the assumption that unless mentally colonised in this manner, Muslims remain a threat. A collective object of suspicion.
My question to you, o Muslim PREVENT People is: How can you champion a policy that collectively punishes Muslims and aims to deform and secularise your faith?
Harming Islam and Muslims
This leads into the second point I wish to highlight: the impact on Muslims. PREVENT was designed off the back of a study that focused solely on Muslims. This study has been rubbished by hundreds of academics, but my point here is that the inherent, deep-rooted discrimination will only reproduce Islamophobia and discrimination of Muslims. The growing evidence base shows Muslim families being harassed and bullied by PREVENT. Young children are being left traumatised through PREVENT processes, and their data is kept as if they are criminals despite not having even thought about what PREVENT supposedly “prevents”: terrorism.
A child is innocent, developing, explorative, and often clumsy. For what crime is an innocent child being punished when he or she is interrogated? Why are Muslim children detained, subjected to questioning, and recommended to be brainwashed in manner that represents a milder version of the Uighur concentration camps?
A mother’s status in Islam is sacrosanct, elevated, and praised. Yet, through PREVENT, that motherhood is tested, stressed, and strained as she must witness the testimony of maltreatment through her young child. She must endure harassment by PREVENT officers who are looking to coerce consent for her child to be brainwashed into state ideology.
The father too is harassed into cooperating with PREVENT and effectively spying on the community against the threat of PREVENT officers targeting his child.
I ask you, o Muslim PREVENT People, how can you champion a policy that does not even spare the youngest of children from trauma, intimidation, and psychological harm, let alone fellow brothers and sisters?
Thirdly, as Muslims, we believe the accountability that truly matters is the one which will occur on the Day of Judgement. It is here where we will be stripped in every sense of the word: of our clothes; our wealth; our families; and all that gives us sense of security in this world. And this includes the monthly salary that lands in your bank accounts, and the fantasy belief that siding with the government will protect you in some way.
PREVENT, in its aims, its harm, its logic of pre-crime, and the impact it is having on Islam and Muslims renders the policy fundamentally incompatible with key Islamic principles. It inhibits Islam, operates on a logic of collective punishment, suspicion, spying, and backbiting, and intervenes on a predicted future of terrorism that is fixed. As our recent report available on the Coolness of Hind website shows, all these aspects contradict Islamic directives and principles.
Does this not make your heart skip a beat? Does this not tug on your conscious?
The innocent child that now dreads speaking in the classroom; the innocent mother who becomes anxious whenever the phone rings; and the innocent father who is stressed by the gangster like tactics of PREVENT Officers. They will be calling to account all those who gave succour to such an Islamophobic, anti-Islam, and un-Islamic policy. The Prophet ﷺ said:
“Whoever harms [others], Allah will harm him, and whoever causes hardship [to others] Allah will cause hardship to him.” (Musnad Ahmad, 15755)
My question to you, o Muslim PREVENT People is: how can you work for and champion a policy that causes hardship to your fellow brothers and sisters? What will your answer be to them and Allah ﷻ? How will you sleep knowing the policy you championed has distressed countless Muslims, most of whom you cannot find and seek forgiveness from?
PREVENT won’t protect you
Finally, hoping PREVENT will protect you, or grant you acceptance in the corridors of power is delusional. We have seen how Sufis who were considered “moderate” before by neocons and PREVENT are now declared “extremist” alongside “Salafists”. It makes no difference whether you’re a seasoned PREVENT trainer or a counter-extremism champion, you will face bullying, intimidation, and censorship the moment the government disapproves of you. You’re nothing more than expendable brown face whose value is defined by your loyalty to an Islamophobic policy.
I draw your attention to the words of the Prophet ﷺ: “Whoever seeks the pleasure of people by the displeasure of Allah, Allah will leave him to the patronage of people.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī, 2414).
In understanding PREVENT, we cannot separate the politics of PREVENT from who we are as Muslims. It is a systemic policy that must be weighed in the moral framework of Islam. And the outcome of such an analysis does not bode well for the policy, or for you as a Muslim.
But it’s never too late. The time for change is now. Not when the policy dies out due to the weight of its own immoral failings. It’s time for you to reflect on your own position, your complicity in this oppression. Did you speak for it, or against it? Did you defend PREVENT and provided excuses for your collaboration, or did you realise the harm it causes to Muslims, and withdraw? And fundamentally, did you knowingly aid a policy that is ultimately anti-Islam, and un-Islamic, or did you make use of the blessings Allah ﷻ has given you to defend and protect His religion?
The consequences of the choices we make going forward reverberates across time till its end.
The very least you can do, o Muslim PREVENT People, is conscientiously object to working and championing PREVENT as a policy.
May Allah ﷻ have mercy on us and guide us all. Ameen.