Those promoting PREVENT are getting desperate, it seems. Sources in Birmingham forwarded a letter from Waverley School (Birmingham) directed to parents, stating that the school will participate in a BBC Panorama documentary promoting PREVENT. The letter reads that the BBC programme will “showcase some of the excellent work we do around Safeguarding and the Prevent Duty”. The film crew will be in the school tomorrow (25th November) and requests the parents to fill in a consent form.
When George Bush infamously announced to the world that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”, it set policies in motion which have detrimentally impacted the landscape of Western politics and law. The thinking representing the group of men who advised disastrous foreign policies and civil liberties-eroding domestic policies, slowly but surely permeated across the Atlantic to Britain through Tony Blair and later, Michael Gove under the auspices of neocon/pro-Israel advocates. That original, reductionist, warring “us and them” narrative, courtesy of neoconservatism, has since become the normalised discourse around Islam, Muslims and foreign wars.
There is a little-known but important indication to the type of politics being played upon hearing the terms “violent and non-violent extremism”. Indeed these terms have crystallises under the previous and current British neocon regimes. The terms can be traced to the rhetoric of zealous neoconservatives. During Bush’s second term, neocon architect of the Iraq war Donald Rumsfeld promoted a change in wording from War on Terror to “global struggle against violent extremism” or GSAVE. Those familiar with the neocon-linked, pro-Israel global counter-extremism complex will recognise the “AVE” acronym often employed to denote this politicised, agenda-driven, hegemonic effort.
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?