And so, the discriminatory PREVENT Strategy has now received statutory footing, marking a new era in British history. An era in which the people, passive to the reality of PREVENT, allowed the foundations of an authoritarian state, dressed in the garb of “democracy, human rights and rule of law” to become established. Neoconservatism has achieved the soft-despotism it so lovingly advocates. The minds of people will continue to be shaped in accordance with the state-approved thinking outlined in the PREVENT Strategy.
A revealing Guardian report shows the extent of the pervasion and focus of PREVENT as the counter-extremism industry is thrown another lifeline. According to the report, PREVENT is being prioritised to targeting mainly Muslim areas, where taxpayer money is being thrown at various initiatives to tackle “extremist ideology”. In any sane world, this would be termed religious profiling, which is explicitly condemned in the context of government security measures in the UN Human Rights Security Council Resolution 16/19.
Given the fact that the terrorism threat level of the far-right is near enough equal (see research paper here, p.29), the fact that the government has chosen to focus on Muslims should give an indication of the thinking present in government. The Guardian piece does highlight references to the far-right:
“Kickz Rewind, a project set up by a charity in partnership with West Bromwich Albion Football Club – got £4,424. It carries out anti-racism youth work, including matchday workshops designed to challenge young people’s attitudes to Muslims and any potential support for the English Defence League.”
Yes. Potential support for the English Defence League is to be dealt with in predominantly Muslim areas. Grand. The list of areas according to Paul Thomas, a professor at University of Huddersfield, will continue to grow to include more areas usually associated with the Muslim demographic. He states,
“The latest version of Prevent maintains the overwhelming focus on Muslims.”
Bravo! At least there is some acknowledgement of the widespread, structural discrimination taking place in 21st Century, neoconservative Britain.
Of course, the elephant in the room, the theory underpinning the PREVENT Strategy has been missed completely by practically everyone. The conveyor-belt to terrorism theory is a defunct, flawed theory, which leading professors in the field of the study of terrorism have comprehensively deconstructed.
Furthermore, the renewed community aspect of this Strategy, where organisations are funded to ensure Muslims are sufficiently brainwashed, assimilated – not “integrated” – and stripped of mainstream Islamic/anti-establishment views, has already been done with the first version of PREVENT. This was where “Sufi Islam” was promoted as the cure for radicalisation, thus spawning Home Office/FCO projects like the Radical Middleway and organisations like the neoconservative Sufi Muslim Council to explicitly control and shape Muslim communities. The point to note, however, is that Strategy failed miserably to the admission of the Government. It seems as though there has now been a reversion to this tactic; the difference now is that the new antidote is the obscure religion of “British values”, with the model Muslims being “ex-Muslims” or those who actively undermine mainstream Islam. Freedom of thought and freedom of speech is free Henry Ford-style: as long it is government-approved and primarily against Islam.
Instead of scrapping it and taking on board the experts in the field of terrorism (not former “Islamists” chasing the next pay), the government has blessed PREVENT through an Act of an idiotic Parliament. The Statute which enshrines the legal duty to enforce PREVENT achieved Royal Assent with cross-party support – a testimony to how deeply entrenched neoconservatism has become and how ineffective the party politics has become. More to the point, taxpayer money is being spent on a Strategy which is ineffective, not only according to professors and academics, but also the former head of Mi5!
Even the Home Office spokesman’s comment recorded in the Guardian piece, alludes to the failure of PREVENT, which has been implemented over the past decades in various guises on the Muslim minority like a human social experiment:
“We fundamentally revised the Prevent strategy in 2011 to ensure it challenges terrorist ideology, supports people who are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and works with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation. Since then we have seen the terror threat level raised to severe and an increase in police arrests linked to terrorist activity in Syria.”
Yes, since the revision of PREVENT which has been implemented to the detrimental, abusive effect on the Muslim minority, there has been an increase in police arrests linked to Syria. This is in fact an inadvertent acknowledgment that the Strategy has not worked.
Protecting Values by Violating Them
The latest iteration of PREVENT has been endorsed by neoconservatives against the back drop of an unprecedented attack on a minority through the unfounded Trojan Hoax plot and a relentless negative media campaign targeting the Muslim minority, skewing the public perception. In this way, the public has been manipulated to manufacture consent for a Strategy which massively discriminates against the Muslim minority, and disconcertingly establishes a public surveillance state in the mould of East Germany’s Stasi to regulate thought. Furthermore, by using the label “extremism”, not defined in law but in a policy document, it undermines the rule of law, as people will have their freedoms “disrupted” thanks to an arbitrarily wide definition not found in law. Coupled with the fact that it violates the absolute right of freedom from discrimination based on belief, it is an affront to everything it claims to protect: human rights, rule of law and democracy.
“Extremism” is the new derogatory label for a community. It is the new term behind which our fears of the other is manipulated to push policy and carve out hardened nationalism. It is the yellow Star of David, used to demarcate the “them” in the “us and them” thinking inherent within PREVENT. And before pseudo-liberals shout “religion isn’t race” to justify their discrimination, and pinpoint the flaws in comparing “extremism” to race, know that anti-Semitism started with a coordinated demonisation of Judaism, before the discourse was racialised. The underpinning dynamic of xenophobia is the same. Also, a minority can be defined by religion in the context of discrimination as recognised in international law (see here, for a fuller discussion).
In the words of Conor Gearty, the Professor of Human Rights Law at the London School of Economics,
“There was always a risk that identity politics would be turned into a cultural war, the majority versus the rest. We don’t hurl racist abuse anymore, not in public. We say ‘extremist’.”
I am, frankly, annoyed at the colonialist schemes which attempt to destroy my faith using the discourse of “extremism”. Please don’t misunderstand me. The attempt itself is futile. The annoyance is born from the fact that Muslims are now deemed a threat to British values because of their unwavering adherence to normative Islam. Yet, it is not Muslims who have eroded human rights, the rule of law, or the democracy here in Britain – this has happened thanks to neoconservatism, which at its core is manipulative, deceitful, and despotic. This government, and the complicit MPs and quangos, have no right to talk about “extremism” without addressing the most dangerous “extremists”: the neoconservatives and their allies in government, who have systematically disintegrated the foundations of a liberal democracy under the pretext of “countering terrorism”.
The people in East Germany became sick of the intrusive surveillance culture established by the authorities. In 1990, the Stasi headquarters were torn down by the protesting people. This should be a sign for the neocon government.
 Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, UN Doc A/HRC/RES/16/18, 12 April 2011, Adopted without voted 24 April 2012. Note that the UK government fully supports this resolution. The specific part related to religious profiling states:
“To make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures.”