Given the toxicity of the PREVENT label, the Muslim minority is all too familiar with its problems. Its name results in an anxiety which now simply cannot be dismissed. As the highly problematic report “The Missing Muslims” published by Citizens UK recognised, the “Prevent Strategy on Muslim communities came up in most of the hearings across the country”. To deal with this breakdown, there is now a reversion to a “community-based” approach to tackling extremism and terrorism.
The “community response to terrorism” approach seeks to mask the issue that “buy-in” and trust of the community is absent and therefore the policy is not being co-opted by the community. The solution therefore operates on the assumption that PREVENT, or more accurately, a pre-criminal intervention is not necessarily the problem, and where there are problems, these are simply implementation detail which can be rectified. This is further supplemented by a co-existing effort to produce a response developed by the community in the hope that PREVENT would be rendered obsolete. Both however, posit the community and its exploitation central to the promulgation of pre-crime interventionism.
In this piece, I intend to outline a brief history of this resurgent “community-driven response” trend and highlight some of the organisations that seem to be pursuing this course of action.
It has reached a point where elements of the government, in their efforts to salvage whatever they can, are resorting obvious spin tactics. From seemingly planted stories (Sara Khan’s incredibly artificial efforts to sell PREVENT, her Home Office-approved book, along with vague success stories – which cannot be corroborated – to an incredibly welcoming media comes to mind), to sham select committee “reviews” of PREVENT, which far from questioning PREVENT’s basis, strengthened it, the methods demonstrate signs of desperate.
Despite these manoeuvres, there have been several key reports over the past few weeks which have indicated to the final throes of Britain’s PREVENT counter-extremism strategy.
Read my previous analysis on the HASC Radicalisation report: Home Affairs Select Committee Radicalisation Report is an Effort to Dissipate Momentum against PREVENT and a Dangerous Script for a Closed Society
The Home Affairs Select Committee report on radicalisation referred to two key organisations which have been close to the establishment and have directly or indirectly supported the lambasted PREVENT social engineering programme targeting the Muslim minority: Fiyaz Mughal’s Faith Matters which runs Tell MAMA, and Inspire, run by Sara Khan and Kalsoom Bashir.
Critiques of PREVENT raised by Faith Matters (FM) are reproduced in the Committee report. A comment piece on FM’s submission to the Committee has been published here on the blog already. I highlighted the fact that Mughal himself engages in the very issues his submission criticises. Pertinently, I revealed that the seemingly two-faced Mughal did in fact support PREVENT but believed the “brand” had become “damaged”. Moreover, the way in which Tell MAMA was being used was a cause for consternation. Far from merely recording anti-Muslim attacks, it was actively controlling Muslim discourse by indirectly defending Quilliam Foundation employees and facilitating attacks on Muslims authored by pro-Israel activists through the subtle construction of Muslim discourse as extremist – a neoconservative strategy to suppress dissent.
Under the cover of purporting to measure anti-Muslim attacks, Mughal’s organisation continues to engage in the very practice of attacking Muslims it disagrees with alongside pro-Israel outfits like Community Security Trust (CST), and gutter papers like the Daily Mail. When the pro-Israel, Mossad-linked organisation CST published a piece in which the political ideology of Zionism was dangerously conflated with anti-Semitism, credible Muslim journalist Dilly Hussain and Mend, an organisation respected in the Muslim community, were attacked, Tell MAMA tellingly Tweeted it out as a “brilliant blog”.
The Home Affairs Select Committee report on counter extremism (“Radicalisation: the counter-narrative and identifying the tipping point”) was never meant to be more than a theatrical designed to stem the gaining momentum tearing apart Britain’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda. The momentum against PREVENT, constituted of Muslims on the ground, countless academics and a number of unions required arresting. The tactic was to take control of this spiralling situation through a “review” where there is token acceptance of issues that are then carefully spun away and the course set upon by neoconservatives in collectively punishing the Muslim psyche through the neo-imperialist CVE project is resumed.
The evidence for the effort to maintain the course of PREVENT is evident from the way the review was framed:
“Our concern was that families and communities were being deeply affected by recruitment of young men and women to fight in Iraq and Syria. We therefore decided to examine the Government’s strategy for tackling extremism to assess whether it is effective and reaches the members of society who are most vulnerable to radicalisation.”
Implicit within the above statement is the focus on the singular “pathway” to political violence: “extremism”. When the report’s author aver that they sought to examine the “major drivers of, and risk factors for recruitment to terrorist movements” – this analysis is firmly limited to the dominant pro-Israel/neoconservative-designed lens of ideology and extremism.
The below comments by CAGE on the Home Affairs Select committee report on PREVENT make for an imperative read. I will be posting my thoughts on this soon too.
The Home Affairs Select Committee report into radicalisation has rightly recognised the toxicity of PREVENT. Yet, instead of scrapping the failed policy, it only proposes a rebranded version of it, named ENGAGE. This programme seeks to implicate community organisations in order to gain a veneer of credibility, while the underpinning premises of PREVENT are left firmly intact.
It is an attempt to force the Muslim community to take ownership of the problem of political violence, while at the same time reinforcing the good Muslim, bad Muslim dichotomy, with the government’s overarching narrative as the determining factor. Ironically, the report refers to and quotes non-independent organisations who are state sponsored as outlined in our report “We are Completely Independent”, and gives them a semblance of legitimacy.