This beautiful statement of Malcolm X has powerful, empowering implications. Now consider the converse. If you colonise the mind of a man, you colonise an individual; if you colonise the mind of a woman, you destroy the next generation.
An “intervention” of an armed nature to control a minority within the country is political suicide. You can instil fear into them though, by demonising a community and then targeting their beliefs through policies which would criminalise thought, belief in the Shari’ah or preference of an alternate world-view. All this would prevent political dissent and control the beliefs of a minority and by extension the people. Thus the “intervention” is the colonisation of the mind or as Ruth Kelly called it when she presented the plans to place the local authorities as mechanisms to tackle “extremism” – winning hearts and minds. This is the extra-judicial policy known as PREVENT and the Channel programme.
The entire premise of the PREVENT agenda is entirely erroneous and unchallenged. It seeks to challenge a government-defined ideology which happens to also cut across traditional Islamic beliefs and discounts actions which may be caused by political grievances and by extension the foreign policy of Britain (Michael Adebelajo is a case in point). It also conflicts with the MI5’s profile of terrorist. Under the pretext of terrorism, thoughts are being criminalised and at the same time the government’s own dirty politics are being shielded.
Despite such Orwellian characteristics, the erosion of human rights continues unabated. Muslim women have been targeted as tools to propound the PREVENT agenda in the past, however of late there has been a renewed emphasis on this pathway to a more effective invasion of rights and liberties and encouragement of a spying culture within the family.
The Shanaz Network
The PREVENT agenda is increasingly targeting women and mothers with their agenda. The Shanaz Network is a PREVENT initiative and was “established to break down barriers and encourage women to play an active part in the Government’s Prevent agenda.”
According to the latest Shanaz Network factsheet,
“Women are at the heart of the home and communities and are best placed to notice behavioural changes in their children or in others. This puts them in a position to safeguard those who are potentially vulnerable to recruitment into terrorism… The Network’s objectives include; work to address ideologies which terrorists use to recruit people to their causes; work to support those who may by vulnerable to radicalisation, and work to strengthen institutions which can play a role in Prevent. The Shanaz Network will report on a review progress through an online community forum.”
One must question the behavioural aspect of this purpose. If tomorrow a teenager, refuses to listen to music, changes his attire from a G-Star jacket to a jilbaab or jubba, takes interest in Islamic literature, and audio lectures emphasising the Muslim minority identity and prays through the night, would such a change prompt mothers to start getting concerned and possibly refer them for deradicalisation? Based upon existing, analagous referrals to Channel, it would seem so (see below).
Jan Trust – “Mum’s against Terror” or PREVENT Abusing Mum’s?
Jan Trust is an organisation which was originally associated with commendably dealing with domestic violence and forced marriages. Their history with PREVENT emerged according to the Jan Trust project manager, Sajda Mughal when she “survived” the 7/7 attack, which in turn prompted her to tackle extremism, not by engaging and challenging route anguishes such as the existing foreign policy, demonisation of the Muslim minority and draconian terror legislation which was and still is discriminately targeting the Muslim minority, but by embracing it through PREVENT.
What is not mentioned regarding Sajda is that she is the wife of the Muslim unrepresentative Fiyaz Mughal from Tell MAMA who views the normative position on homosexuality being a sin a “conservative” position within Islam and called on Dr Mohammed Naseem of Birmingham Central Mosque to be removed for holding a normative Islamic position, which distinctly ran contradictorily with the aims of his organisation. His clique includes names like Azhar Ali (PREVENT advisor) and the neocon Haras Rafiq who has sung from the same hymnsheet as the Muslim-hater extraordinaire Douglas Murray.
Recently, it has been revealed that the former cheif executive of Community Security Trust, which records anti-Semitic attacks and provides security at Jewish communal events, is to become joint chairman at Tell MAMA. Richard Benson and his former organisation are known to be Zionists, with connections with Mossad, and are not really trusted by moderate Orthodox Jews.
With a connections like this, the question is raised, what type of Islam is being pushed as the “counter-narrative” to the mothers these PREVENT projects are aimed at? With a view which reduces the nobility of Jihad from fighting to remove injustice be it through the voice or legitimate action, to not drinking tea for a day, divergent from normative Islam is perhaps the most apt description.
Web Guardians and “Snitching”
The media is now propagating the organisation’s recently launched “Web Guardians” project which, contrary to Jan Trust’s defence against “minority” critics (alluded to later), reinforces the encouraging of a spying culture within a family. According to the BBC report, it is giving the necessary skills for mothers to monitor activities “behind the bedroom door”. Also if a child does raise legitimate foreign policy questions, the counter-narrative is provided. The discussion from the BBC report with the mothers however suggests not awareness of global actions through an “extremist ideology” as Sajda would like all to believe, but rather through political awareness. Daily reports in which the Muslim world is constantly discussed and Muslim personalities constantly attacked raises questions. In the BBC report, “Maryam” a Palestinian mother, cites her child’s grievance to be caused by her son’s experience of going through checkpoints in Palestine – not a “radical preacher”. And the child himself would attend the demonstration. Maryam then explains that he wouldn’t go and fight and lose his life, but would attend demonstrations.
Sajda however interprets this as the mother’s intervention and that his grievance is “now channelled positively”, but listening to the mother it sounds like she is describing what her son is already doing and airing her own view that destructive action is of no benefit. It is a classic case of steering the words to fit one’s agenda; in this case the agenda is Sajda’s effort to prove her PREVENT delivering credentials. And also reinforces the notion that these mothers are being used and abused to serve the PREVENT agenda.
Women’s Organisations – A Grassroots Vehicle for PREVENT Policies
Jan Trust has defended their Web Guardians project. Whilst still unable to answer why mothers of young right-wing, white supremacist, Christian extremists are not being targeted, dealing with the notion of “snitching” it is stated,
“none of the mothers who have signed up to the training programme would have done so knowing that the project would require them to ‘snitch’ on their own children to government bodies. Their primary concern was the safety and well being (sic) of their children and they expressed this to us many times during the pilot sessions.”
The primary purpose for the mothers may be the safety of children, however Detective Inspector Khizra Dhindsa, the lead for the Shanaz project explains the reason why this is the primary purpose and what exactly is the by-product of this engagement.
In a keynote speech delivered by her to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, she states,
“In Thames Valley, a practitioner called Naheem Bashir summarised this by telling me, ‘Intelligence should be a by-product of effective engagement, not the sole motivation behind it. If you just go out looking for intelligence, you won’t find it.'”
Another way this can be read therefore is that, those organisations which are already engaging at the grass-roots in dealing with other social issues provide for a more effective intelligence-gathering machine. And this understanding tallies with Sajda’s where, in selling her PREVENT skills in an ACPO publication (Prevent Community Engagement, June 2011, Issue No. 006) she boasts:
“Our PVE work for women has been very successful and made a real difference to society. Because of our track record of over 20 years and the immense trust we have built with the Muslim community we are able to gain buy in when delivering sensitive projects such as the PVE agenda.”
Women make for a more effective penetration of PREVENT policies into the community. As Inspector Khizra Dhindsa highlights:
“Compared with traditional engagement with men, it was noticeable that engagement with women penetrated communities more deeply. Women’s groups have significant reach, and women’s informal networks are also very effective at disseminating messages”
“We Will Inspire” with PREVENT
Sara Khan’s “Inspire” is another PREVENT milking organisation which has assumed the role of countering extremism through “Jihad against violence” which includes “violent extremism”. It claims to be a human rights organisation, and criticises everything but the human rights violating PREVENT policy.
Among the list of other Prevent organisations endorsing this work is British Muslims for Secular Democracy, which has in the past been exposed for distorting Islamic positions in its (mis)-“guidance” documents.
Listed amongst the UK ambassadors for this Jihad against violence is the notorious, Islam-twisting, neocon-serving Usama Hasan of Quilliam who shares liaisons with the bigoted neocon Henry Jackson Society.
It is then rich when Sara Khan in her latest initiative tries to convince Muslims that it is not a “western imperialist, neo-con agenda”.
Sara Khan in her article in the Guardian states that:
“We need to recognise Muslim women’s agency and their right to live in dignity, free from being politically exploited in the name of hate.”
Ironically she and her organisation are victims of political exploitation through PREVENT’s use and abuse of women’s organisations to gather intelligence.
Concluding Remarks – The Channel Programme
This is not about stifling debate or genuine issues women face. Women must be empowered to speak up against injustices and oppression from within the Islamic paradigm both inside and outside the home, but not through draconian, intrusive Government policies. This is about highlighting the very fact that Muslim women are being exploited to continue the erosion of human rights, by encouraging an atmosphere of suspicion and are being brain-washed in delivering “counter-narratives” in-line with the poisonous PREVENT policy.
The Channel programme is critical to PREVENT and is a multi-agency referral system which organisations and government bodies use to refer “people at risk from radicalisation”. In its vulnerability assessment framework, the “psychological hooks” defined are so broad, it can include someone joining the British army. And indeed its breadth and secret nature have been criticised. In the human rights organisation CAGE’s damning report on the human rights implications of PREVENT, they allude to Channel stating:
“The monitoring of young people and particularly school children, with different religious or political attitudes to the mainstream, is worrying and more akin to what happens under the Assad regime in Syria, with children who make comments opposed to the regime being sent off for correction”.
Real cases which cannot be specified in detail for reasons of confidentiality include Muslim women employed in public bodies being referred to the Channel programme by their employers because they started to wear the Niqab and Jilbab. They have been, without prior knowledge called into meetings with police officers whom have asked questions of a private nature. Their family members have also been harassed by these officers.
In another case, a Muslim female deaf patient at a hospital was referred for decradicalisation under the Channel programme because she was surfing the internet about Syria. Her phone and laptop were confiscated.
Religiosity and interest in foreign affairs are indicators of radicalisation. The sad truth is that PREVENT and Channel are so broad and open to abuse, miscarriages of justice under the false banner of fighting terrorism will become more commonplace. Commenting on the extra-judicial nature of PREVENT and Channel the authors of the CAGE report write:
“Other local authority policies for safeguarding vulnerable people and protection are usually public and incorporate rights of appeal. The Channel procedure is secretive and ambivalent, with parents and community members kept in the dark regarding the intrusion of their privacy.”
The intrusion of PREVENT and Channel is being taken to a whole new level – and women are the new tool of choice.