Another attack and another opportunity to demagogically exploit emotions of the public and catalyse the rising far-right by presenting an authoritarian like, machoistic “strength”. Theresa May has explicitly expressed her intention to “rip up human rights laws” that impede new terror legislation dealing with suspects. In other words, those that have not committed any crimes will be targeted at the expense of human rights. She stated,
“I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court.”
There are a number problems with this statement. If the burden of proof is not satisfied then per the rule of law nothing illegal has been committed. If there is evidence that a suspect is a “threat”, then they should be prosecuted or dealt with under the “pursue” strand of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy. Principles like the rule of law and legislation like the Human Rights Act are there to safeguard citizens from arbitrary power and arrests. It is precisely this type of bombastic, fascist rhetoric which it guards against. It is a very short slippery slope for the state to target those it does not like. Right-wing papers are hell-bent on labelling the opposition leadership “terror-apologists”. If a law is brought in which violates human rights and requires little to no evidence to action, will measures be placed against the opposition leadership too?
“O you who believe, do not enter any houses other than your own homes unless you seek permission and greet their inmates with peace. That is better for you, perhaps you may take heed.”
“Those who are faithfully true to their trusts and to their covenants; and those who strictly guard their prayers. Those are the inheritors, who shall inherit Paradise.”
“Irving Kristol came up with the solution that has become the cornerstone of neoconservative politics: use democracy to defeat liberty. Turn the people against their own liberty… if you can convince people that liberty undermines security, they will gladly renounce it.”
On the day US war crimes whistle-blower Chelsea Manning was released from military prison, CAGE’s international director Muhammad Rabbani was charged for essentially refusing to hand over passwords to devices holding confidential information. This followed his arrest at Heathrow airport in November – despite being told there was no reason for his detention under the unjust Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Rabbani’s arrest and his principled decision to withhold passwords against the threat of imprisonment has implications which ripple across the security paradigm enveloping the Western world.
Neocons relish a good tragedy. In a screed published prior to the 9/11 attacks, a cabal of neocons argued that the US Armed Forces could only be made resurgent through “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – a new Pearl Harbor”. Soon after the 9/11 attack the neocon David Brooks noted how the attack was positive for cultivating “an unconsummated desire for sacrifice and service”. Unsurprisingly, soon after the Westminster attack, the Times took the opportunity to milk the event and direct all narratives towards Islam and Muslims.
Niall Ferguson, a neocon, penned a particularly vitriolic piece, relying on three reports. The opinion piece has also been published in the Boston Globe.
Sara Khan in her contribution to the Hope Not Hate report, State of Hate 2017, dedicates a whole page for Imam Shakeel Begg to prove both “Islamist extremism” and her subservient utility before neocons. Imam Shakeel Begg of Lewisham Islamic Centre took the BBC to court after Andrew Neil labelled the Imam an “extremist”. Against numerous positive character references, the court held that the Imam was a “Jekyll and Hyde” character who was in reality an “extremist”.
Scrutinising the case is important. Like PREVENT, a bogus theoretical model to determine whether Islamic beliefs are “extreme” is used to label the Imam an “extremist”. Such cases enable an ideological state to pick and choose “extremist” beliefs based on the prevailing climate of prejudice against the Muslim minority.
The judgment is already being paraded in the neocon media and think-tanks run by hate preachers. It is being used in an McCarthyistic fashion to bully charities that choose to share a platform with the Imam. This sets a dangerous precedent for Islamic scholars of all mainstream persuasions.
Last month, CAGE published a report critiquing the flawed “science” underpinning the British government’s Prevent strategy.
Among the many criticisms in the report, some attention was given to the nature of the peer review process. At the time of writing, we did not envisage the importance of this single issue, particularly in light of the more substantive points we were making.
In conjunction with the launch of the report, the Guardian published a news article detailing how 140 academics had written an open letter to the government asking for the flawed science to be made available to academics and psychologists, in order for it to be scrutinised. In that very article, the Home Office responded to the report by stating that the study, used as a basis for Prevent, had been through a “peer review” process.
In July of this year, I posted a blog asking the question in relation to the revelation that PREVENT was underpinned by a theory (Extremist Risk Guidance – ERG22+) formulated by British psychiatrists, What would these US psychologists make of Britain’s PREVENT Strategy? The American professors bluntly stated that the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda was “at best misguided, and at worst, vicious.”
The Pseudo-Science of PREVENT
CAGE’s devastating expose – The Science of Pre-Crime: The ‘Secret’ radicalisation study underpinning Prevent’– proves that Britain’s CVE – PREVENT – really is indeed, misguided, resulting in decisions which are vicious. The report exposes a 2010 study authored by two psychologists who are linked to the national security industry, Monica Lloyd and Christopher Dean, and used to formulate the pre-crime intervention model ERG22+. Shockingly the authors themselves admitted that the research was lacking. Below are key quotes taken from the study:
“The current lack of demonstrated reliability and validity remains the main limitation of the ERG at this time. It remains essentially a qualitative tool that requires a level of professional judgment and experience to be effectively used.”
““The ERG is work in progress…”
“There remain important questions to be explored, most notably around reliability and validity,”
Cedar Riverside, credit Burhan Mohamud/arraweelo.wordpress.com
In Britain, the PREVENT counter-extremism programme is now being challenged academically and practically to the point that voices within the mainstream political spectrum are calling for it to be scrapped.
However, despite this policy failure, beyond Britain and in countries like Australia and the Unites States of America, the ideology of PREVENT is spreading like a virus.
There have been developments in Australia, where counter extremism policies are maintaining the discriminatory targeting of the Muslim minority. Australia is looking to ramp up its counter-extremism measures, both in a hard and soft capacity. The Australian measures will include the strongly-lambasted control orders to be used on individuals whom have not been convicted of a crime. Further those “high-risk extremists” whom have been convicted of a crime and have completed their prison sentence may be indefinitely detained. In other words, the rule of law is being decimated by disproportionate, authoritarian measures which will most likely be used majoritarily against Muslims.