The background to this and subsequent blog to be published are the subtle transformations taking place in the context of pre-crime counter-terrorism policies and their interaction with Muslims. Over the past few years there have been an increasing number of voices which seek to mask gaping criticisms of PREVENT by reviving previously failed strategies. The history, details and identification of events and organisations engaged (inadvertently or otherwise) in this revival will be outlined in a further detailed piece but suffice to say, the aim seeks to develop a “community-based” response to terrorism (and extremism) in order deal with the criticism that PREVENT lacks “community buy-in” and “trust”. From within the community, the argument goes that if Muslims develop their own responses then the significance of PREVENT diminishes and religious rights for Muslims are protected.
In response to this I will proffer some further points of discussion in order to determine whether such exercises are beneficial to the Muslim minority. This piece in particular will focus on restoring pre-crime policies like PREVENT as a method of control firmly within the discourse of colonial power relations. Pre-crime, it will be shown, is an exemplar of the colonial continuity.
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?
A PREVENT “Community” Event
Much to Britain’s, and in particular, the Conservatives’ shame, the UK fell in global rankings for child rights within a year, from 11th to 156th. The UK’s current position makes it sit among the ten worst countries including regions like CAR, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. The KidsRights report notes that the UK could “do more to improve the enabling environment they have built for children’s rights” (p.5). The Independent reporting this appalling situation noted,
“Serious concerns have been raised about structural discrimination in the UK, including Muslim children facing increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures, and a rise in discrimination against gypsy and refugee children in recent years.”
What has happened in the last year? Apart from increased prejudice and hate unlocked by a neocon/white supremacist-orchestrated Trump and Brexit campaigns, it has been a full of year Britain – and in particular the Muslim minority – has experienced the PREVENT Duty. The founder and chairman of KidsRights, Marc Dullaert, explicitly called for PREVENT to be “re-assessed” in light of the “increased discrimination” Muslim children face:
“…Muslim children in the UK face increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures. Accordingly, the Index advises that counter-extremism measures such as the Prevent Strategy be re-assessed to ensure that they do not have a discriminatory or stigmatizing impact on any group of children.”
I have been monitoring the situation in Birmingham and specifically the Birmingham Central Mosque since early last year.
If we recall, Muslim Labour Councillor and Chair of Birmingham Central Mosque, Muhammad Afzal, called PREVENT racist at a crucial period where Muslim communities were issuing statements up and down the country rejecting the policy with similar rhetoric. The media and political spin machine took action and a campaign was launched to discredit the elderly Councillor. Deformist Shaista Gohir and neocon Khalid Mahmood also contributed to the assault.
Bullied by the Charity Commission?
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? ~Muhammad Ali on his opposition to the 1967 US military induction for Vietnam.
“If you look close enough at these medals, you can see the reflections of dead Iraqis. You can see the embers of Libya. And you can see the faces of the men and women of the British armed forces who didn’t return and also those who did with lost limbs and shattered souls. I no longer require these medals.” ~ Daniel Denham, Former RAF, 2015
There has been a concerted effort to militarise Muslims. This has ranged from cultivating a militarist, state-worshipping mind-set in schools where the pupils are predominantly Muslim, to parading the Army in mosques, and now, using religion to encourage Muslims to join the army.
Times-assigned “leading Islamic scholars and imams” attended a conference with the military at Sandhurst to encourage Muslims to join the British Armed Forces. The article quotes Qari Asim, the Imam at Makkah Mosque in Leeds, as reportedly saying,
“The armed forces are seen as a noble profession and it follows there are no inherent tensions.”
The report further adds that he said scholars were agreed that Islam does not prohibit Muslims from serving in the British Army.
To better understand the validity of Qari Asim’s reported blanket proclamation, there is a need to understand the idea of violence from the perspective of a neocon state and its political domain.
The last piece examining Sara Khan’s contribution to the Hope not Hate (HnH) report highlighted the sectarian exploitation by the very policies Khan advocates. In addition to noting the dangerous smearing of whole groups, it was identified that the Ahmadiyya were being used to force a deformation of Islam agenda.
This piece will examine how Khan, continuing the neocon trait of double standards and hypocrisy, has overlooked the “extremism” – as defined by the PREVENT Strategy – within the Ahmadiyya community, reflecting a broader concerted, ideological political effort to attack and subdue orthodox Islam. The Ahmadiyya, therefore, provide a useful example of both HnH’s incoherent approach, and Khan’s selective social-cohesion concerns.
In stark contrast with the Muslim minority as a whole, the politicians and media have given an amplified and prioritised platform to project the Ahmadiyya persecution narrative. Whilst addressing such grievances is important for the state, the Ahmadiyya leadership dynamic in Britain echoes a colonial past where the emergence of the Ahmadiyya movement meshed with the British colonial power structure and aided it against colonial resistance.
To recap, Sara Khan had a written a piece for the anti-fascist group Hope not Hate’s (HnH) report State of Hate 2017. The first piece analysing it, Sara Khan’s connections with neoconservatives and the far-right counter-Jihad movement were established, demonstrating the incoherence of HnH’s decision to incorporate her writing. In the second piece, the PREVENT framework Khan employed was demonstrated to be rooted in a problematic neoconservative epistemology, the consequence of which has been the demonisation of the Muslim diaspora and an effort to control Muslim discourse. This was shown to be evident in Khan’s own writing, indicating to the fact that HnH had been used as a vehicle to promote PREVENT.
In this piece, the hypocritical exploitation of differences in various groups related to Muslims, as a mechanism to further extend the counter-terrorism framework in order to stringently regulate more facets of Muslim discourse, will be explored. Khan’s tendency to exaggerate incidents and distort cases will also be highlighted through the piece.