Foreign policy considerations as a root cause of anguish and concern have time and again been thrown out the door to be replaced with an asinine theory propounded less by experts in Islam and more by opportunists awaiting their government pay-cheques. The conveyor-belt theory to radicalisation is as odious in profiling people based on belief as the Third Riech’s policy of “Germanising” Jews, and with it, the unchecked, illiberal and heavily prejudiced floodgate of normalising surveillance, invading privacy and creating an atmosphere of suspicion, has been opened.
Of course, accepting foreign and domestic policy considerations as reasons for legitimate grievance means opening the doors to government scrutiny, something the current regime has minimised, violating principles of liberal democracy and emulating tyrants like the Bashar al-Assads of this world.
CCTV and advanced microphones surveillance was yesterday’s news. Today “public services”, like schools and hospitals have become agencies for “public surveillances”. During the the Nazi era, the Gestapo represented a small element of the surveillance programme; it was the ordinary people who reported “problems” which were defined by the Nazis who promulgated an atmosphere of fear amongst the populace. This type of surveillance was normalised through the notion of loyalty – “Ein Volk, Ein Reich”, or “one nation, one people”. According to Arendt, totalitarian societies like Nazi Germany employed,
“a system of ubiquitous spying, where everybody may be a police agent and each individual feels himself under constant surveillance.”
The discourse of “terrorism”, “extremism” and “British values” in the PREVENT policy is having the same effect, despite statistically there being more deaths in the West (Europe and USA) arising from right-wing extremism than “Islamist” violence (Kundnani, 2014). According to one PREVENT strategy guidance document for the NHS, the following are signs of radicalisation:
- a misconception and/or rejection of UK foreign policy
- a distrust of western media reporting
- perceptions that UK government policy is discriminatory (e.g. counter-terrorist legislation).
That’s pretty much game over for me then.
Where is Britain heading? This is a question we all need to ask ourselves as concerned, thinking citizens of this country. The neoconservative drive towards the erosion of British values is a reality as I have shown throughout my blogs (here, here, here and here, for example).
The account reported by the human rights organisation, CAGE, is a must read. It should serve as an eye-opener for the people who are not aware of the reality of the policies of our government. However, this is but one aspect of the multi-agency surveillance programme; this programme is being run on schools also. I have already reported (see Concluding Remarks) on the fact that innocent increases in religiosity, legitimate challenging of domestic and foreign policy and merely surfing the net about foreign countries are “indicators” towards “radicalism” which has resulted in citizens of Britain being harassed and humiliated through PREVENT intervention and “Channel Programme decradicalisation”. (Channel is the multi-agency surveillance and intervention programme).
As the academic, Arun Kundnani states in his recent book, The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror, (2014),
“Not only is the Channel project raise substantial issues of privacy; it is also discriminatory. Since it seems to function in part on the basis of treating religious behaviours as indicators if extremism, and because over 90 percent of its cases have involved Muslims, it appears to be a form of profiling based on religious identity.”
George Orwell’s book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which enumerated a surveillance state and “policing” of thought as crimes, was a fictional look at a nightmarish dystopian era. The PREVENT and the Channel Programme are present day realities of that nightmare.