Post-Trojan Hoax: NUT Conference Slams PREVENT and Raises Concerns About its Stasi Traits

Copyright: BBC

First it was the Association of Teachers and Lecturers urging teachers to ignore the neocon-driven, authoritarian “British values” social engineering, public surveillance programme, and now the National Union of Teachers have joined in the rapidly crescendoing critique of government’s PREVENT Strategy.

With the Trojan Hoax dust settled and the teaching profession coming to terms with what I have been saying pretty much for the whole of last year, it was only a matter of time that the problems of PREVENT started to pile up. It is certainly worth repeating the key issues highlighted at the NUT conference held at Harrogate. It is also worth noting that these are individuals who are now implementing the ambiguous PREVENT Strategy.

PREVENT injustices: Muslim demonised and turned into suspects

One Wandsworth teacher, Jan Nielsen, said: “We are expected to be front-line stormtroopers who listen, spy and notify the authorities of students who we are suspicious of.”

She told delegates of a Muslim pupil who had been questioned over comments he made after Friday prayers, even though he had made a strong argument against extremism.

And she gave a case of another boy being questioned after he applied for permission to visit his dying grandfather in Pakistan.

His laptop was seized and he was accused of looking at jihadi websites by the headteacher.

In response the boy said: “How can I argue against something if I don’t understand it?”

Other teachers claimed Muslims were being demonised and turned into suspects.

All of these examples are in the Muslim context, reinforcing the notion that the way in which PREVENT is drafted results in the discriminatory targeting of the Muslim minority. It also reinforces the findings of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which demonstrate that the PREVENT Strategy is manifesting a racist implementation.

Shaping the Discourse: Stifling Debate

[Executive member Alex Kenny] added: “Prevent is shutting down debate and we must oppose it. Schools are places where teachers and children should be allowed to have discussions.”

Delegates agreed a motion which said: “The government’s promotion of British values, the Prevent agenda and the use of Ofsted to monitor these is having the effect of closing down spaces for such discussion and that many school staff are now unwilling to allow discussions in their classroom for fear of the consequences.”

Speaking ahead of the debate, NUT general secretary Christine Blower gave the example of how teachers had felt conflicted when dealing with the issue of the attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

“After the attack, some students, particularly some Muslim students, said they felt if they expressed that they were offended by the cartoons, they would be labelled as extremist.

“The idea that young people themselves are shutting this down means that they are locked out of the discussion.”

This is exactly the outcome I had predicted late last year. In describing the totalitarian German Stasi state, which the PREVENT Strategy so dangerously mimics, I wrote that,

Schools, hospitals and most public services were extensively infiltrated.  The pervasion was such that “many a conversation was subjected to a form of self-imposed censorship in the belief that it was being furtively recorded and analysed,”[1] – a situation which Muslims can relate to as they struggle to determine which statement or action is classed by neocons as “extremist”. This point also demonstrates the fallaciousness of the PREVENT strategy.

Though I had strongly suspected this to be the outcome based on anecdotal evidences, it is still a disturbing read to see it actually occuring more widely.

Problem of public of spies

The Conference also highlighted the inherent problem of using civilians in effectively what is a surveillance operation.

Executive member Alex Kenny told delegates the union was already hearing that teachers did not know whether to open up discussions on such issues because they did not know “where they would go”.

Speaking ahead of the debate, NUT general secretary Christine Blower gave the example of how teachers had felt conflicted when dealing with the issue of the attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

The evidence was already speaking volumes before the formal imposition of PREVENT on schools. These further accounts only add to the mounting evidence which allude to the fact that PREVENT and its “British values” policy is a failure.

Kalsoom Bashir, co-director of the PREVENT-milking Inspire organisation, continues to bang on about the need for “early intervention”. She masks the abovementioned damaging flaws, societal implications and even the lack of academic rigour, behind the garb of “community engagement” and “frank conversations”, the two aspects which have been debilitated.

As time goes on, and the documentation of PREVENT abuse mounts, PREVENT will continue to be called out for what it is: a xenophobic, agenda-driven and failed strategy.


Reference:

[1] Miller. B, Narratives of Guilt and Compliance in Unified Germany: Stasi informers and their impact on Society, Routledge: New York, 1999, p.4

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