Counter-extremism and terrorism strategies and laws have decimated the rule of law. The Countering Violent Extremism agenda is being slated by the professoriate and resisted by Muslim minorities in the West. Calls are being made to scrap PREVENT.
Despite this picture, it is “business as usual” in Britain. The scandalous nature of PREVENT peaks as taxi-drivers are now being trained to become the “eyes and ears” of local authorities and police. One can envisage the scenario of an overzealous taxi driver reporting individuals heading to protests, a mosque or a get together at the local Arab restaurant. The insidiously suppressive nature of counter-extremism makes this all possible.
Prisons have been the latest theatre of ideological war for the neocon counter-extremism craze. With the imprisonment of Anjem Choudhry came proposals which were last dog-whistled by original Quilliamite and current Tony Blair Faith Foundation senior advisor Ed Husain. It has been suggested that in order to combat the “pernicious” ideology of “Islamist extremism”, prisoners ought to be kept apart from the rest of the prison population. As I commented back in March, such measures are counter-productive and not needed.
The Government’s Counter Extremism strategy was published today following reports in the weekend papers about £5 million in funding being put aside to fund groups “to build a national coalition against extremism – in communities and online” and mention of the strategy including measures to ban “hate preachers from using the internet or working with children”.
The strategy published today is much the same in content as the report by the Prime Minister’s Extremism Taskforce which has laid much of the groundwork for what has since followed in policy announcements about tackling extremism. The criticisms levelled at the Taskforce report, about its lack of evidence base to validate assertions made and its overreliance on the notion of “ideology” being at the root of radicalisation are all repeated in the strategy published today.
The strategy also reiterates much of what we have already heard from the Home Secretary, Theresa May and the Prime Minister, David Cameron about the Government’s “crackdown” on extremism, with its conflation of integration policy, on “boosting opportunity and integration”, and racialised, essentialist assumptions about Muslims and “illegal cultural practices” such as forced marriage, honour killings and female genital mutilation.
The references to a review of shari’ah tribunals in the UK sits uneasily in a strategy supposedly about championing British values and celebrating the “vibrant, buoyant and diverse” British society that has been cultivated over the years.
More strange is a citation which presents evidence submitted to Baroness Caroline Cox as evidence of “extremism” – this is the same Baroness Cox who invited Geert Wilders to the UK and said of Muslims, “Islam is using the freedoms of democracy to destroy it”. There is a certain irony in making mention of individuals with extremist connections in a strategy about “counter-extremism”. Odd too that the Extremism Analysis Unit which is supposedly the holy grail in identifying “extremists” missed the likes of Baroness Cox and her association with the notoriously Islamophobic Gatestone Institute. A case of civil servants asleep on the job?
Britain’s RAF Tornados are in Iraqi airspace after the motion was passed in Parliament. Now it’s only a matter of time as Cameron joins US’s mission creep.
As the case was being built for partaking in the meal of Syria and Iraq and propaganda was being pumped, there was a concerted effort to blame ideology for the threat to security of Britain. That ideology was in essence Islam or “Islamism” which is so loosely defined by the PREVENT strategy it criminalises legitimate Islamic beliefs.
The entirety of the PREVENT strategy is focussed on dismantling Islam as a causal factor towards terrorism, whilst foreign policy grievances are downplayed and conveniently ignored. In fact it is a signifier of something wrong with an individual if he challenges official government narratives (there must be a lot wrong with me then). Indeed the existence of Quilliam, its lifeline is the failed counter terrorism strategy (CONTEST 2) and discriminatory PREVENT policy. As Haras Rafiq pointing to his pay check more than anything and linking ISIS to “Islamist” extremism stated,
“When our Prime Minister says that his Government is going to redouble the efforts to stop youngsters being radicalised – the redoubling of zero still equals zero.”
He explicitly cites the PREVENT strategy and cements the discredited neocon-devised conveyor-belt to terrorism theory:
“the last review of Prevent in 2011 the Department for Communities and Local Government was tasked with publishing the strategy on how they would help stop British Muslims being radicalised ie: the challenging of ideas and counter narrative dealing with non-violent extremists before they quickly become violent”
There is a lot wrong with the above paragraph but then there is a lot wrong with the guy who said it too so we’ll leave it for now.