When I wrote barely over a week ago that the impact of the resistance to the PREVENT Strategy by the Muslim communities of Newham and Waltham Forest will “reverberate across the UK and into the faces of neocons”, I did not expect the ripple effect to materialise so soon.
Joining Newham Muslim religious leaders and Waltham Forest Council of Mosques in their rejection of discriminatory PREVENT Strategy and defying the desperate, pitiful attempts of neocons to spin opposition to PREVENT as being “silent on terrorism”, are a plethora of major Muslim organisations and individuals in the north of UK.
Earlier in the month I exposed how government plans to regulate supplementary schools (with the context of these proposals emphatically set as madrassas) were a cover to push the PREVENT social engineering programme into the private religious sphere, amounting to undue state interference of religion.
In a joint statement to the consultations by key organisations and individuals, the proposals have been comprehensively rejected, marking a further milestone in resisting neocon closed society measures clandestinely targeting the Muslim minority. Authored by the Northern Council of Mosques, the statement put up by campaign organisation Keep Mosques Independent reads,
“Government sanctioned religious education will lead to alienated faith communities and unduly encroaches on the legitimate right of faith providers to teach their children their faith.”
Attacking the draconian sanctions which would be instituted for falling foul of “British values”, the statement continues,
“The proposal of ‘registration’, ‘inspection’ and ‘sanctions’ as set out in the consultation document clearly departs from the British tradition not to regulate religious education and worship…”
More fundamentally, however, within the statement are scathing critiques of the PREVENT Strategy, further proving the widespread rejection of PREVENT amongst the Muslim community. Some of the key excerpts are reproduced below:
“We believe the definition of ‘’extremism’’ which lies at the heart of the regulation of religious education in out-of-school settings is open to abuse due to its vague definition… The term ‘extremism’ is potentially all encompassing, vague and lacks any legal certainty. We note the term ‘extremism’ is a much contested concept even within Parliamentary reports which offered conflicting findings often sensationalised by the media and overstated by some officials over whether ‘extremist’ practices were in fact found in Birmingham Schools. ‘Extremism’ was also a term the Home Secretary, Theresa May, was unable to define when questioned on Radio 4 “Today’s Programme” [13th May 2015].
“…it is apparent that the Government has adopted an “aggressive secular” interpretation of the vaguely defined term “British values” and the equally vague benchmark which is found in Government reports that some ‘failing schools’ ‘do not prepare children for modern British life.’”
More explicitly attacking PREVENT for “adversely affecting children’s development”, the statement reads,
“There is growing evidence in other educational settings that the application of ‘S.21 Prevent Duty’ within nurseries, schools, colleges and universities has been misapplied due to the vague nature of terms like extremism and the flawed theory of radicalisation. For example there are reports of children who have been referred to Prevent Boards for wanting to pray in school or being critical of the media or foreign policy or officials saying that a change in dress, not shopping at a particular store and not participating in another faith’s celebrations are signs of ‘extremism’.
“…Children need safe space to discuss their views on current events and properly directed by true religious teachings without fear of being referred to a Prevent Board. This would be difficult to achieve within the context of the vague definitions of ‘extremism’ and the risk-averse culture which seems to develop in other educational settings. Faith providers may simply avoid such open conversations with children for fear of being labelled extremists themselves.”
Addressing the discriminatory focus of PREVENT:
“…we have seen how the Prevent strategy has been selectively applied upon Muslims based upon a preconceived prejudice that is built around vague notions of extremism and radicalisation. For example a FOI request revealed that between 2007-10, 67% of referrals to the Channel program were Muslim and from 2012-13, 57% were Muslim, bearing in mind that Muslims make up less than 5% of the UK population.”
Aside from the many individual organisations and individuals, those signing up to this forceful statement include, Bolton Council of Mosques, Bradford Council of Mosques, Oldham Mosques, Lancashire Council of Mosques Stockport Mosques, and Rochdale Council of Mosques.
A Time for Action
The statement itself is a commendable articulation of the problems, both theoretical and practical, with PREVENT. With the pernicious tentacles of PREVENT stretching beyond the public sphere and into the home, and with a staggering 500% percent increase in PREVENT referrals this year, the rejection of this contemporary Stasi programme must continue to spread.
The least that the readers of this blog can do is spread this article and urge others to sign up to the statement linked below. Moreover, mosques, madrassas and Muslim community organisations should begin issuing statements boycotting the PREVENT Strategy and calling for it to be scrapped.
The statement, where individuals and organisations can sign up, is available here:
Further reading on PREVENT: