Andy Burnham Calls for Scrapping Prevent. Better Late than Never

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CROSSPOST: Moazzam Begg

It’s now safe to call for abolishment of Prevent, after senior middle-class white politician has done so

The shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, has joined the call to scrap Prevent, the UK’s anti-radicalisation programme. Using a term previously cited by senior police officers regarding the government programme to tackle extremism, the senior Labour politician described Prevent as “toxic”.

Last month, the police chief tasked with heading and implementing Prevent, Simon Cole, saidthat government plans to target non-violent “extremists” through the introduction of more legislation risked the creation of a British “thought police”.

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RICU Revelations: The British Government’s War on the Muslim Minority

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The following question has maintained a concious presence generally for years but particularly so in the last few days: are we, the British people allowing ourselves to be governed in a totalitarian fashion?

A set of reports and leaks from the Guardian (here and here) and CAGE (“We are Completely Independent”) revealed that this totalitarianism had now become all too pervasive: a substantial body of information exposes an intertwining propaganda network which implicates private PR companies, the state and knowing or inadvertent civil society groups.

The details though loosely known, were still shocking to read in black white. I have speculated that the Home Office propaganda unit, RICU (Research Information and Communications Unit), may have been involved in last year’s documentary on “extremism” pumped out by neocon propagandist John Ware. I also brought to attention the connection between Sara Khan and her sister Sabin Khan who was alleged to be working in RICU. This connection since was highlighted in the home affairs select committee as being a source of potential conflict of interest, with Sabin being confirmed as deputy chief of RICU.

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The Discriminating Thought-Police Commander Mak Chishty

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“It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be”.

Orwell, Nineteen-Eighty Four, p.205

What a pickle our Scotland Yard Commander Mak Chishty has gotten himself into it.  For a person who has a degree in law from the former polytechnic Birmingham City University, and for a person who declares that “I think everybody deserves fair and equal human rights”, the implications of his recent statements have not dawned on the poor man. In fact, he still remains adamant that his words are unproblematic.

Before I put forth my analysis of the delirious situation, it is worth clarifying Chishty’s initial statements.  He did not say that people who do not drink alcohol or shop at Marks and Spencer’s or wear “Western clothing” are on the path to radicalisation. Rather his focus is on the adoption of such a lifestyle which may suggest that persons are being radicalised.  As the Guardian reports,

“Chishty said… radicalisation… could be shown by subtle changes in behaviour, such as shunning certain shops, citing the example of Marks & Spencer… Chishty said friends and family of youngsters should be intervening much earlier, watching out for subtle, unexplained changes, which could also include sudden negative attitudes towards alcohol, social occasions and western clothing. They should challenge and understand what caused such changes in behaviour, the police commander said, and seek help, if needs be from the police, if they are worried.”

The change in behaviour is what attracts the invasive measures Chishty suggests.  These measures are as follows:

“Chishty said there was now a need for “a move into the private space” of Muslims to spot views that could show the beginning of radicalisation far earlier… Questions should be asked, he said, if someone stops shopping at Marks & Spencer or starts voicing criticism.”

In his latest interview with the International Business Times, he states that he does not want the police to move into the private sphere, but rather the parents to increase their monitoring. In what has become a habit of those merged with the establishment, he wants the “Muslim community to do more about it”.

Now that the clarification has been made, we can now comment on the outrageousness of his new demands of the Muslim community.

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Police or Thought-police? Derbyshire Constabulary’s Attack on Islam and Dissent

If there was any doubt remaining that the current British strategy to tackle “extremism” is a thinly veiled policy to discriminate against the followers of Islam, then the following should remove any remnants of uncertainty.

As reported by 5PillarsUK, Shakeel Suleman has been prevented by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) from adopting a child due to being flagged by the Derbyshire Constabulary as “holding radical and extreme views”.

The far-right/neocon-style reasoning provided by the police force is frankly shocking. The following has been categorised as “extreme views”:

  • Sharing a link from the Hizb-ut-Tahrir website including the news of the release of Moazzam Begg,
  • Supporting the creation of the Caliphate,
  • Adherence to the Shari’ah
  • Anti-western rhetoric
  • Anti-establishment views

Fundamentally, personally held views are being used arbitrarily by authorities to determine the citizen’s conformity to a government standard of “valid views”, rather like the totalitarian regimes the West so hypocritically chides.  Presumably, thinkers like Noam Chomsky or activists such as Russell Brand and Frankie Boyle would have a problem adopting a child, given their “anti-Western” and/or “anti-establishment” views.

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Counter-Terror Bill: Time to Stopthebill.co.uk and “Prevent” the Stasi-State

A community campaign has been set up to stop the Counter Terror Bill which is being rushed through Parliament.

One of the key aspects being pushed is Part V of the Bill which enshrines the legal enforcement of the Stasi-State creating PREVENT Strategy. The impact of this that, far from being a non-intrusive state founded on traditional liberal principles, we have one of the most heavily regulating governments in history, and that regulation is of thoughts – a non-derogable, absolute human right. The impact is on every citizen of this country.

Any effort to counter the push of this Bill is to be welcomed.

Please support, share and find out what you can do at stopthebill.co.uk

Further reading:

Analysing the Impact of the Counter-Terror Bill

PREVENT Reality: Police Chief Warns of “Police State”

Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

It seems the problems with regards to the definition of “extremism”, and its abuse by neocons is finally starting to be discussed, although it may be too late given that the new counter terror bill has already been through its second reading in Parliament. Given the toxic implications of the Bill which I have briefly discussed here and here, one wonders why there is no outrage against what is an assault against the “democratic values” often propagated through military means around the world.

Peter Fahy in a frank and welcome warning highlighted that the battle against “extremism” could lead to a “drift towards a police state” in which officers are turned into “thought police”. Below are some of the excerpts which deserve being reproduced in full from the Guardian: Continue reading