How Prevent impacts islamic beliefs and mosques
Here are two crucial takeaways from the podcast between Prevent Watch’s Dr Layla Aitlhadj and Dilly Hussain from 5 Pillars that you may have missed.
Prevent is a psychological control policy that is about placing whomever the target groups is – in our case, Muslims – in a disempowered, apologetic position as a default.
It is there to stop people from expressing our perfectly legal and non-violent beliefs fully and freely.
Let’s start by acknowledging that there is a lot of money to be made in the “Prevent space”. In other words, there’s a reward when you agree to report state-defined “suspects” in the community to Prevent. So Prevent is about creating divisions among people, when moderation actually happens when people are free to interact.
Securitising the workplace
Muslims who don’t opt into community-based Prevent, can face pressure to participate in the programme at work.
It’s really important that people who work in public services like teachers and doctors who are compelled by law to implement Prevent, should lean on their unions for support in refusing to participate.
It’s really interesting that Prevent Watch is most often contacted by people refusing to participate in Prevent at work, and they are almost always non-Muslims.
This shows us that the fact that at the moment, Muslims don’t refuse or raise concerns about Prevent training – teachers, health care professionals – and this proves that Prevent by its very nature placates the target group, by forcing us into a silent, sometimes even apologetic position.
A Muslim refusing to participate in a programme that targets and criminalises aspects of Islamic belief that are not illegal, is seen by many Muslims as simply creating too much of a potential problem.
So, Prevent forces us to even overcompensate in some instances. At the very least, we will co-operate with Prevent. If we go unwillingly, we still go silently and compliantly.
Embedding the Prevent attitude
This has a psychological effect on us and can distance us from our own Islamic identity and slowly alter our beliefs.
The more you take on the Prevent narrative, the more you must censure your own beliefs.
Eventually, after a while, Muslims who do take a step towards Islam by manifesting as “Muslim” whether in dress or opinion, start to appear “extreme” to you. And so it goes on.
The fact this is now being drawn into a more authoritarian framework should be a cause for concern, not only among Muslims, but among other targeted groups; all deserve a right to be treated justly, and not as psychological guinea pigs and tools of control.
Mosques should be protected by Muslims
Prevent also cannot be justified Islamically because it is based on suspicion and spying on Muslims, which is not permissible in Islam.
Moreover, it has actually been counter-productive to the proper functioning of mosques.
If a young man walks into a mosque and says he wants to go overseas and fight for the Muslims, then the community has the capability to address this Islamically.
There is an assumption that this doesn’t exist in the community. But it has always happened; people gather and learn in mosques, and learned Muslims are good moderators from an Islamic view. Mosques are places of worship and learning and exchanging views – this has always been in the case and it will remain so.
The very rare cases of individuals who have committed criminal actions “in the name of Islam”, have been known to security services, so questions should not be asked of mosques in this regard, but of those actually responsible for security. This has been stated even by families of victims as we learned from the Manchester enquiry.
Now, under Prevent, the mosques, community centres and the entire education sector are becoming securitised; this is totally counter-productive.
“Counter-terrorism experts” talk about online “extremism”; this is happening because schools and mosques are securitised and they are no longer safe; unsurprisingly, people are going elsewhere, into different spaces.
So, they’ve created their own problem! And it will continue as long as Prevent exists.
View the full podcast here.