Muslim Resistance to PREVENT Grows as PREVENT Child Abuse Continues to Manifest

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Over the past month a major change in the Muslim socio-political landscape took place. The Guardian reported some shocking incidents which have taken place in Newham, with Muslims raising their concerns about the Council’s Quilliam connection.

The report notes that since former Quilliam Foundation director Ghaffar Hussain joined Newham Council as a PREVENT officer, Islamic practices have been targeted as the basis for intervention:

“Imams point out that earlier this year a school attempted to ban the wearing of the jilbab, a long and loose-fit coat or garment worn by Muslim women, and had to back down after appeals from parents. Another free school, with 200 Muslim students, closed down its prayer room – forcing pupils to pray on Friday in the local parks.”

Similar trends have taken place since the PREVENT duty in Birmingham, where schools have attempted to change or already have changed long established dress codes and Friday prayer arrangements.

In the context of Hussain, this is unsurprising; Maajid Nawaz of Quilliam has targeted traditional Islam as the focus of attack after Islamism, while David Cameron himself has placed deformist reformists alongside “moderate Muslim voices”. Usama Hasan, meanwhile, participated in the far-right/neoconservative-linked “Muslim Reform Movement”, whose Muslim-profiling, Quran-tearing, “mainstream moderate Muslim” Asra Nomani recently declared the hijab to be “Islamist” and called on Muslim women to abandon the headscarf. Of course, bringing the hijab into the discourse of “Islamism” in neoconservative circles also makes it “extremist”.

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On Home Schooling and State Discrimination: The Noose of PREVENT Strangling British Society Must be Severed

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An ideology is a set of beliefs held by individuals or a collective. Given the way in which the counter-extremism discourse, as propounded by the neoconservative elements of the government and its associated “think-tanks”, possesses underlying assumptions which have been comprehensively rejected the intellectual milieu (see herehere and here), one can reasonably conclude that neocons are dogmatically promoting counter-extremism as a subset of their ideology and imposing it on people.

Given the pervasion of neoconservatism, its proponents in government, and the veritable control of the broad-spread permeation of this counter-extremism ideology by them, it would also not be reasonable to state that in the context of counter-extremism, the government has become both authoritarian and totalitarian. It is authoritarian because those who dictate the policies on counter-extremism can be traced to a small, elite cabal of neoconservatives, and it is totalitarian because extremism policy has taken societally-driven surveillance and thought-policing to a whole new penetrative, fascistic level.

Over one Spy for Every Muslim

I have already drawn parallels between today’s PREVENT surveillance programme and East Germany’s Stasi. Professor Arun Kundnani, has shown how the FBI has one counterterrorism spy for every 94 Muslims in the U.S., which approaches Stasi’s ratio of one spy for every 66 citizens.

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A Closer Look at Ofsted’s Anti-Islam Inquisition at a Muslim Faith School

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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.

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Britain’s Counter Extremism Policies are Criminalising Muslim Thought and Expression

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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.

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PREVENT, Cameron and an “Accountable Government”

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There were some rich words coming from David Cameron in the Guardian of all papers.  It seems when Cameron wants to ride the wave of fear of “immigrants” he uses the Daily Mail, and when he wants to demonstrate his social responsibility for poor “immigrants”, albeit laden with typical neocon doublespeak which dresses up neocon warring and global neoliberal fiscal policies as benevolence, he (ab)uses a lefty liberal paper.

Cameron, in typical neocon hypocrisy tells the Guardian readers that,

“Our aid budget also enables us to promote British values around the world. It helps us to lay the building blocks for prosperity and opportunity – the rule of law, strong and accountable government, gender equality and education for all.”

Rule of law. Accountable government.  These two attributes of a just government have been suffering from severe attrition resulting from neocons raining down their policies over the years.  The government’s PREVENT Strategy to tackle extremism is one such policy which is indirectly increasing the opacity of the British state.

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PM Goes Two for Two

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Crosspost: MEND

PM Cameron goes two for two today following up Ramadan greetings last month with a speech in Bratislava accusing British Muslims of “quietly condoning” extremism, and Eid greetings issued last Friday followed up with a wide ranging speech in Birmingham that demurs little from the ideas articulated in Munich in 2011.

Indeed, James Forsyth, the Daily Mail’s political commentator gave indication of Cameron’s impending speech late last month noting, “Tellingly, this speech is being referred to in Downing Street as ‘Munich 2’.”

British Muslims will be forgiven for reliving a déjà vu moment. Truth is, much of what Cameron had to say today is not ‘new,’ which is perhaps the most disturbing part of the speech delivered. After a term in office, the Government is no better informed about tackling extremism than it was five years ago. Despite promises made in opposition to review the Prevent programme and to ensure that security legislation did not impinge on hard won civil liberties, the Government is beginning to look distinctly like the Blair Government before it: in denial about foreign policy and other factors impacting on radicalisation while using the power and resources of the state to, as former Labour MP Phyllis Starkey put it in her scathing review about the earlier Prevent strategy, “engineer a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, promoting and funding only those groups which conform to this model.”

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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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