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.
The discussion amongst securocrats on how to move beyond PREVENT is like a dog’s tail – despite attempts to straighten it by highlighting flaws, theoretical considerations and so forth, it has a tendency to bend back towards an ideology-only solution of dealing with “extremism”.
Moazzam Begg issues an interesting set of proposals. Last month, I too outlined an approach for the likes of MCB to take if it is sincere in contributing to concrete ideas on how to tackle terrorism.
This can be read here: Countering Terrorism with the MCB
CROSSPOST: Moazzam Begg
Last month, my colleagues at CAGE published a damning report on the classified research that the UK government is using to identify potential extremists. Incredibly, as the report reveals, the government’s programme, called the Extremism Risk Guidance 22+ (ERG22+), was based on nothing more than research conducted by two psychologists working for the National Offenders Management Service (NOMS) and collated based on interviews with a handful of British Muslim convicts. From this study, 22 “risk-assessment factors” were extracted that would go on to form the template for how the UK government would now seek to define the undefinable ‘extremists’ residing in our midst.
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.
The case of Muhyiddin Mire, the mentally ill knife attacker who tried to kill Lyle Zimmerman at Leytonstone tube station in December last year has been treated in a manner that would suggest Mire was a committed and hardened ‘extremist’. This demonstrates a worrying trend where the media all to readily classify acts of violence committed by Muslims as ‘Islamic extremism’. Not only does this add to the fear-charged climate of Islamophobia, but it also acts to further existing cycles of violence.
It has been well established that Mire had suffered from paranoid delusions and had missed an appointment with a community mental health team four days before the incident. Nonetheless, the Daily Mail recently led with the headline “Jihadi Attacker” and infused the headline with numerous Islamic references. Other papers lead with “ISIS attacker” and references to his apparent religiosity were made.
Yet again we have another round of reports targeting in the majority, Muslim faith schools in Birmingham. A number of reports published in the BBC, Telegraph Guardian, Sky News, and Independent, regurgitated Michael Wilshaw’s letter to Nicky Morgan parading his team’s hard work in failing faith schools which were formerly inspected by the now defunct Bridge Schools Inspectorate (BSI).
The issue is, in order to come to a decent headline typically scapegoating Muslims, the inspectors tried a little too hard, it seems. So hard that in the case of one school, it is alleged Ofsted not only acted outside its remit during its inspection, but littered its report with inaccuracies and misleading statements, based off compromised trademark Inquisitional-style extremism-based questioning of young children.
In response to the massacres on the streets of Paris, those warmongering political opportunists known for supporting the underlying causes of this horrendous attack were quick off the line to make their views known. The fascist neoconservative Douglas Murray, called for a “proper response” which is “to have the same response at home as we do abroad”:
“So far we have pretended we can tackle these people only by engaging them on foreign battlefields. And by having a half-hearted talk about ‘radicalisation’ here at home. That is quite wrong.”
Given Murray’s colourful views about Muslims, and is neocon analysis of Islam (“Islam is not a peaceful religion. No religion is, but Islam is especially not”), the above sounds incredibly like a call for a “Final Solution” for Muslims. Are we to start using drone strikes inside Britain like we do abroad? We seem to have become experts at extrajudicial assassinations, and Murray is quite warm to the concept and realities too.
Crosspost: Jahangir Mohammed
In July of this year the Government’s Prevent policy became a legal duty upon most public authorities. It means that most sections of the public sector are required to identify and deal with “extremism”, something which remains loosely defined. Although the policies theoretically apply to all forms of extremism, in reality the greatest impact is being felt by Britain’s Muslim community. The duty means that schools, colleges, universities, health providers, local councils, youth and social workers, prison service and others have a duty to look at any Muslims who use their services, or work for them, for “signs” of “radicalisation”.
Thousands of workers up and down the country have received a few hours training on Islam and spotting signs of radicalisation. Armed with this new “expertise”, they are applying it to the Muslim community. The result is increasing evidence that Muslims are being identified as potential “extremists” for expressing everyday religious, political ideas, and beliefs and values.