Following the recommendation of the terrorism watchdog that the Government initiate an independent inquiry into the Prevent strategy, the Joint Committee on Human Rights yesterday announced the launch of an inquiry into counter-extremism strategy and its human rights compliance as part of the legislative scrutiny of the forthcoming Extremism Bill.
The JCHR has announced that it is to undertake a “sharply focused inquiry into the Government’s counter extremism strategy” noting that the remit will cover its “compatibility with religious rights and freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.”
The announcement continues, “The Committee also takes interest in the operation of the Prevent Duty in the education sector.”
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.
Continuing the theme which sees a resurgence of organisations calling for “engagement” and which use and abuse particular scholars in an effort to try and create themselves some space in the already crowded but lucrative counter-extremism industry, is the youth-focussed organisation, British Muslim Youth (BMY).
The Not So Forgotten “forgotten voice”
BMY seems to have been a local organisation which dealt with the Rotherham child abuse scandal and subsequently rebranded and nationalised. Its “CEO”, Muhbeen Hussain comes from a family connected to local politics: his uncle is Mahroof Hussain, Labour councillor for Rotherham. He and his relative and BMY press officer, Vakas Hussain, are leading the charge to revive the “forgotten” voice of Muslim youth in the context of radicalisation.
Crosspost: Seumas Milne
The anti-Muslim drumbeat has become deafening across the western world. As images of atrocities by the jihadi terror group Isis multiply online, and a steady trickle of young Europeans and North Americans head to Syria and Iraq to join them, Muslim communities are under siege. Last week David Cameron accused British Muslims of “quietly condoning” the ideology that drives Isis sectarian brutality, normalising hatred of “British values”, and blaming the authorities for the “radicalisation” of those who go to fight for it.
It was too much for Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative party chair, who condemned the prime minister’s “misguided emphasis” on “Muslim community complicity”. He risked “further alienating” the large majority of Muslims fighting the influence of such groups, she warned. Even Charles Farr, the hawkish counter-terrorism mandarin at the Home Office, balked. Perhaps fewer than 100 Britons were currently fighting with Isis, he said, and “we risk labelling Muslim communities as somehow intrinsically extremist”.
Crosspost: Professor Arun Kundnani
From 1 July, a broad range of public bodies – from nursery schools to optometrists – will be legally obliged to participate in the government’s Prevent policy to identify would-be extremists. Under the fast-tracked Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, schools, universities and health service providers can no longer opt out of monitoring students and patients for supposed radicalised behaviour. Never in peacetime Britain has national security surveillance been so deeply embedded in the normal functioning of public life.
Even as those measures come into effect, the government is drafting another round of counter-terrorist legislation, reviving a set of still more authoritarian proposals first floated last year.
Joint Letter on the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill and the Protection of Charity Bill
This joint letter expresses our concerns over the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, the Protection of Charities Bill and other measures seeking to tackle ‘’non violent extremism’’ under the PREVENT strategy.
The move by Government from tackling ‘violent extremism’ to ‘non violent extremism’ as a base line is dangerous and un-proven, There is little or no evidence to show that individuals progress from non violent extremist thoughts to violent extremist action in any study on terrorism. We are concerned that society is heading into the area of Orwellian concept ‘’thought policing and control’’, where we judge people by what we believe they think, rather than their actual thought or actions
These two bills place the UK at a cross roads of changing its current position of upholding liberty and the rule of law to one where these key values will be seriously compromised. It will not assist but act as a hindrance to the very services it is designed to help.
We recognise the terrorist threat posed by a small number of individuals seeking political change through violence and justifying it through either a misunderstanding of religion or a misplaced sense of duty to the nation. The solutions to counter this threat are difficult and complex and we recognise this .We have continuously made public statements opposing violence in all its forms to our congregations and members, as well as to groups, occupying powers and governments. We have always promoted ideas of active citizenship and participation, encouraging all people to improve the lives of all our citizens and people.
We also add that radical thought and debate are often a key driving force of innovation and progress. Our society and world has developed with radical thought and debate in establishing for instance, women’s rights, racial equality, industrial laws to protect workers, the right to challenge government decisions and police action.