IN THE News

The PROP Expert View: Sunak’s stats on terrorist convictions are misleading and indicate a deeper structural problem

8 Aug 2022 – Sunak’s foolish and dangerous statements betray an ignorance regarding how counter-extremism harms innocent people – but his stats are also wrong.

The statistics for the past year up to March this year from the Home Office show that out of the 196 arrests for terrorist-related activity, 55 (28%) were subsequently charged for terrorism-related offences.

Moreover, white people arrested for terrorist activity increased last year to 91 arrests, while there was a decrease in arrests of black (10 arrests) and Asian (50 arrests) individuals.

So, if Sunak asserts that “80% of live counter terror investigations” are of “Islamists”, why are 80% of the terrorism investigations centred on Muslims? 

The Guardian: Sunak is wrong – and he’s chosen the wrong target, writes MCB’s Miqdaad Versi

4 Aug 2022 – The implication of Rishi Sunak’s purported plans for Prevent seems to be that any public sector worker covered by the Prevent duty would be required to refer anyone they believe is “vilifying” to the authorities.

Would this include nationalists in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, some of whom would readily vilify England? What about writers within our mainstream media, in publications such as the Spectator? Would include those who have non-mainstream political views on our nation’s colonial history?

The Guardian: Sunak’s proposals “potentially damaging” says ex counter-terrorism police chief

2 Aug 2022 – Rishi Sunak’s proposals to strengthen the government’s anti-terrorism programme risk “straying into thought crimes” and are potentially damaging to national security, a former senior police chief has said.

Sir Peter Fahy, who was also chief constable of Greater Manchester police, questioned the precise meaning of “vilification”.

He said: “The widening of Prevent could damage its credibility and reputation. It makes it more about people’s thoughts and opinions.”

The PROP Expert View: Six spectacular takeaways from Prevent Watch’s podcast with 5Pillars

28 July 2022 – If you missed the podcast, or need a quick breakdown, we’ve provided the key points so you’re in the know – click on the Read More link for a quick read, or you can listen to the full podcast here.

Gov.UK: Robin Simcox appointed Commissioner for Countering Extremism

27 July 2022 – The Home Office today confirmed the appointment of Robin Simcox as the substantive Commissioner for Countering Extremism (CCE). His tenure will last for three years. Simcox’s appointment has been agreed by the Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Simcox has dismissed the use of the term “Islamophobia”. He also worked for a US far-right think-tank The Counter Extremism Group. Simcox also said Extinction Rebellion, Unite Against Fascism and the “far-left” need monitoring.

Popular Science: The new US-UK Data Access Agreement will change how tech companies respond to police requests

24 July 2022 – An agreement between the United States and United Kingdom to improve cross-border law enforcement data sharing will go into effect later this year, the two nations announced in a joint statement.

They will now be able to directly request data like messages and pictures from telecommunications providers in the other’s jurisdiction. The non-profit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation said this is “a dangerous expansion of police snooping”.

5 Pillars podcast: How Prevent targets Muslim school children, and the why it’s a method to silence Muslims

23 July 2022 – In this eye-opening episode of the Blood Brothers Podcast, Dilly Hussain speaks with the director of advocacy group Prevent Watch, Dr Laila Aitlhadj, about the UK government’s controversial counterterrorism ‘Prevent’ strategy.

Topics include what Prevent is supposed to do and what it is actually doing, in particular to young people. The podcast also covers its effect on adults employed in the public services and makes particular mention of why it is incompatible with Islamic values, and its effect on Muslim belief.

The PROP Expert View: How do we make sense of what Shawcross seems to be saying about Prevent?

20 July 2022 – Because Prevent is an early intervention, there can be no evidence that it has successfully dissuaded anyone; indeed this is logically impossible to prove.

Indeed, how can one measure “success” and “failure” when the programme itself targets people who are innocent in the law in the first place?

EachOther: The People’s Review of Prevent explained

19 July 2022 – Into the government’s long delays and silence about its review of Prevent led by William Shawcross, Dr Layla Aitlhadj of Prevent Watch explains the People’s Review of Prevent, a report she co-authored to ensure the voices of those affected by Prevent are heard.

EachOther: Is Prevent even compatible with human rights law?

18 July 2022 – The many criticisms of Prevent include the lack of a peer-reviewed evidence base; the lack of an operable definition of extremism; inadequate training; a high number of ‘false-positives’; and the policy being structurally racist and Islamophobic.

Critics of Prevent include Liberty, the Open Society Foundations, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the National Union of Teachers, Andy Burnham (Mayor of Greater Manchester) and over a hundred academics.

Prevent conflicts with the Human Rights Act (HRA) and the Equalities Act, writes Shazad Amin, Deputy Chair of MEND.

Expert View: Prevent as a tool for a new secular authoritarianism

Prevent continues to operate within, and sustain, its own legal hinterland – both in terms of criminalisation and generating activity in a newly defined “pre-crime” space.

To justify such developments, a campaigning political landscape as opposed to a landscape of good governance is required and is indeed, being vigilantly fostered.

We hear legal experts saying that the problem with Prevent and other policies lies firstly – and crucially – in their legality under British due process, as well as their common sense. But these are opinions are being ignored.

Into this steps Islamophobia as a kind of “wedge” issue.

This has brought a crisis of democracy.

The Guardian: New Met chief faces urgent task to rebuild public trust

8 July, 2022 – Sir Mark Rowley becomes leader of the Metropolitan police knowing its problems are so severe, with public confidence so low, that failure to reform may make him the last commissioner of the force as we know it, writes Vikram Dodd.

Already there is renewed talk of taking away the Met’s status as the national lead for counter-terrorism, so that it can better focus on serving London’s communities.

And the Met commissioner is the only police chief answering to two bosses – the London Mayor and the Home Secretary.

BBC News: Muslims describe abuse suffered at work

6 July, 2022 – Islamophobia Response Unit, a London-based charity that helps Muslims facing Islamophobia says people are being bullied and harassed at work because they express themselves as Muslims.

The Unit told the BBC that Muslims have had prayers mats stolen, been verbally and physically assaulted (one man’s colleagues had “physically pulled on his beard”), and one woman had bacon placed in her lunchbox by colleagues when she came to break her fast while working during Ramadan.

Declassified UK: Manchester bomber was a UK ally in Libya

30 June, 2022 – Salman Abedi and his closest family were part of Libyan militias benefiting from British covert military support six years before he murdered 22 people at the Manchester Arena in 2017. He was 16 at the time.

The UK facilitated the flow of arms to Libyan rebel militias at the time, and helped train them, in a programme outsourced to Qatar.

This echoes claims by the legal team representing families of the deceased in the Manchester bombing, who have suggested that the bomb was due to a failure of the security services to act, and family members have accused Mi5 of ‘obfuscation and cover up‘ .

The PROP Expert View: The Times gets it all wrong on Prevent

24 June 2022 – Times columnist, James Forsyth (‘Islamism is a greater threat than the far right’, June 16) seriously misrepresents the government’s Prevent strategy.

Forsyth believes that the number of far-right referrals is disproportionate to the risk when compared with those who have committed terrorist offences. This is factually incorrect; in 2021, out of 186 actual terrorism arrests, over 40% were related to suspected right-wing terrorism.

Despite the statistics of actual terror offences showing a problem of far-right in terms of actual suspected offences, Prevent still focuses eight times more on Muslims.

The New Arab: How Prevent impacts Muslims’ access to UK’s public health sector

22 June, 2022 – COVID-19 brought to light the widespread racial inequity in the UK’s public health sector, compounded by the poverty crisis, social housing issues, and the air pollution crisis.

The past two years stressed the importance of access, trust, and care in public health services for racially minoritised communities in Britain that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

However, as long as Prevent exists in the NHS, these crucial cornerstones of healthcare will remain out of reach for the Muslim community.

The Morning Star: Johnson’s attacks on ‘lefty lawyers’ are childish and sinister

21 June 2022 – David Renton explains how the government has attempted to justify it Rwanda policy in the press and through attacks on lawyers.

Instead of letting refugees settle here, Boris Johnson intends to force them to live in central Africa. The main justification of the Rwanda scheme is that it is so unpleasant that it will scare refugees and dissuade others from following them.

But the focus here is not the ridiculousness of the scheme as such, but rather the way the government has attempted to justify it in the press through attacks on left-wing lawyers.

 

The Guardian: Thinktank that briefed against XR given $30k by ExxonMobil in 2017

15 June, 2022 – A thinktank that received money from an oil company later published a report that advised the government to criminalise Extinction Rebellion in its tough new crime laws.

Several Conservative MPs and peers cited the 2019 report by Policy Exchange in parliament and the home secretary, Priti Patel, repeated its claims about the climate campaigners being “extremists”.

Middle East Eye: What is the alternative to Prevent?

June 14, 2022 – Prevent doesn’t work and never will. The way forward for the UK rests in the realm of ideas and their healthy expression, not in trying to police thoughts, writes John Holmwood.

In the People’s Review of Prevent, we showed that Prevent is not working, but also that it couldn’t work.

What, then, is its purpose? The answer is that it serves an ideological and populist purpose by scapegoating minority communities.

Expert View: Government’s true face is emerging through its about-turns on Prevent

June 10, 2022 – Prevent was never about safeguarding, but nor is it counter-terrorism, writes Layla Aitlhadj.

Even in cases where individuals were potentially victims of other crimes, Prevent conflated and obscured the duty of safeguarding and ignored the perpetrator, to rather focus on the victim. 


Huckmag: ‘I felt interrogated’ – the devastating impact of Prevent in schools

June 9, 2022 – Schools banning certain religious garments and prohibiting congregational prayer may say that they do so in the name of equity and secularism, but as a teacher, I’ve seen how these policies very clearly target Muslim pupils, writes Nadine Asbali.

This goes from forcing Muslim children into the cold and rain to fulfil their obligatory prayers, to Muslim mothers being barred from important school events because of how they dress.

As the government reviews its ‘anti-terror’ programme, the plight of young Muslims suffering as a result of racist policy could worsen.

BBC: Sara Khan says government’s counter-extremism strategy is ‘not fit for purpose’

June 3, 2022 – Speaking to Nick Robinson on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, Dame Sara Khan, a campaigner who has been accused in the past of being a mouthpiece for the Home Office, says Prevent programme should be “ideologically blind”.

Khan also said the UK’s counter-extremism strategy, which is separate from the counter-terrorism scheme involving Prevent, was “completely outdated, it’s no longer fit for purpose”.

Asked about Prevent, the former counter-extremism commissioner, who now advises the levelling up secretary, Michael Gove, on social cohesion, said: “Good policy has to be ideologically blind …”

Al Jazeera podcast: The dual to hold Prevent to account

June 1, 2022 – After years in operation, the government will release an independent review of Prevent – but it has been boycotted by hundreds of organizations. Instead, many participated in a People’s Review of Prevent.

What does a tale of two reviews tell us about the future of controversial scheme Prevent?

Listen to this exclusive Al Jazeera podcast featuring Layla Aitlhadj, Director of Prevent Watch and Professor John Holmwood, author of the book “Countering Extremism in British Schools?: The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair”.

Middle East Monitor: The UK will be complicit in the rise of far-right terrorism if it adopts the Shawcross review

May 31, 2022 – It was only a matter of time before a right-wing figure finally revealed the true depth of their agenda by deliberately drawing attention away from the extremists at their end of the political spectrum, writes Muhammad Hussein.

That is exactly what William Shawcross, appointed by the British government to lead the review of the Prevent counter-terrorism programme, appears to have done.

Police Professional: Does an MP’s murder ring in the failure of Prevent?

23 May, 2022 – While, in principle, few would disagree with the notion of trying to stop people being drawn towards terrorist ideas and action, in practice this means engaging with people through the lens of a counter terrorist programme before they have actually committed any terrorist act.

It can feel like people are being seen through a criminal lens before any criminal act has actually taken place.

The answer to dealing with the reality of extremist tendencies might lie in some fundamental changes to our society. It is unclear that Prevent will be able to address this, writes Raffaello Pantucci.

The Guardian: Anti-terrorism programme does not reflect reality, say experts

22 May, 2022 – Government advisers on extremism have openly questioned the direction of the Home Office’s counter-terrorism programme, after leaks revealed that a review was advocating a crackdown on Islamist extremism rather than the far right.

The most recent Prevent data reveals that “mixed, unstable or unclear” ideologies now account for more than half of Prevent referrals and that a quarter relate to far-right.

Lewys Brace, who advises the government on extremism, said the Shawcross recommendations did not “reflect what’s going on at all, in any way” but that Shawcross’s mindset appeared to be “circa 2004-2007”.

New Statesman: Prevent is Islamophobic, and the government report suggestions on mental health are ‘horrifying’

18 May, 2022 – With part of the Shawcross-led review of Prevent being leaked this week, the findings on mental health are perhaps the most horrifying, writes teacher Nadeine Asbali.

The leak revealed that Prevent is “carrying the weight” of a chronically underfunded mental health service. As such, some institutions are referring vulnerable people to Prevent because it will fast-track support, despite them posing no risk of extremism.

This comes as we are in the middle of a mental health epidemic and young people are some of the worst affected. The alarming repercussions of this cannot be understated.

The Middle East Eye: Elite Chinese police college drew on UK’s Prevent strategy for Uyghur policy

17 May 2022 – A new report warns that UK partnerships with China are at risk of being exploited to lend legitimacy for human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims.

The report has found that the London Policing College (LPC) has declared partnerships with eight universities in China, at least some of which have ties to policing in Xinjiang, where Muslim minorities have faced brutal treatment.

LPC is a private company that provides police training internationally and receives UK taxpayer money for some of its work.

The Guardian: Leaked Prevent review attacks ‘double standards’ on far right and Islamists

16 May, 2022 – The government’s counter-terrorism programme has been too focused on right-wing extremism and should now crack down on Islamist extremism, according to leaked draft extracts from the government’s review of Prevent.

In one particularly provocative recommendation, seen by the Guardian, the review claims there has been a “double standard” approach to tackling different forms of extremism, with individuals targeted for expressing mainstream rightwing views because the definition of neo-nazism has expanded too widely, while the focus on Islamist extremism has been too narrow.

Middle East Eye: UK’s charity regulator urged to investigate Policy Exchange over ‘anti-Muslim agenda’

11 May, 2022 – The UK’s charities regulator is being urged to investigate the Policy Exchange think tank for alleged racism and Islamophobia, over a report in which it accused Muslim critics of the government’s Prevent strategy of “enabling terrorism”.

In a letter to the Charity Commission, the authors of a critical review of the UK government’s controversial counterterrorism strategy, the People’s Review of Prevent, called on the government to review the think tank’s charitable status.

The Guardian: Replacing Human Rights Act will weaken protections, say peers and MPs

13 April, 2022 – Haroon Siddique writes for the Guardian that the Joint Committee on Human Rights has stated that plans to overhaul the Human Rights Bill contravene the principle that human rights are universal.

MPs and parliamentary peers have said that Dominic Raab’s proposal to replace the Human Rights Bill with a British Bill of Rights is not evidence-based and will diminish protections for individuals.

See this story in the Conversation by Helen Fenwick for 5 takeaways from the proposed new bill.

RSI: Prevent is hindering environmental and anti-racism movements as well, says new report

23 March, 2022 – Rights and Security International (RSI) has published a new report that starkly reveals the ways in which the government’s Prevent strategy hinders free speech and discourages non-violent political activism across the United Kingdom.  

Community activists and political campaigners interviewed for the research reported feeling unable to debate political issues freely without fear of being referred to Prevent.

The New Arab: People-led review calls for swift dismantlement of UK’s Prevent strategy

A new report published by the People’s Review of Prevent has called for the dismantling of the UK’s government’s Prevent Duty; a law it said was “instrumental” in enshrining surveillance against British Muslim communities under the guise of counter-terrorism legislation.

The People’s Review of Prevent report is an alternative to the government-led Shawcross Review which, since its announcement, has been widely condemned and boycotted by human rights groups and Muslim activists as “biased, divisive and serving partisan electoral aims”.

TheCanary: FOI reveals eye-watering sum spent by the government on criminalising communities

28 Feb, 2022 – A freedom of information (FOI) response has shown that the Home Office spent £209.3m on the Prevent programme between 2010 and 2021. However, there’s much more that lurks behind this figure.

Prevent Watch has organised the People’s Review of Prevent in response to a boycott of the Shawcross review. The Shawcross review looks at the implementation of Prevent and aims to provide recommendations for the future. It’s led by William Shawcross, a member of the Henry Jackson Society, who has expressed “patently Islamophobic views”. A number of organisations have pledged to boycott the review.

Left Foot Forward: New government rules on ‘political impartiality’ in schools will chill free speech

18 February, 2022 – New government guidance on ‘political impartiality’ has been criticised for seeking to chill discussion of political subjects.

On February 17, the UK government released a report on ‘Political Impartiality in Schools’. The document effectively tells teachers how they should talk about ‘sensitive issues in the classroom in a politically impartial way’.

The guidance has some disturbing aspects which seek to neuter teachers and suppress real discussion about topics like the British Empire, Black Lives Matter, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

MyLondon: Muslim boy, 4, overheard by teacher talking about Fortnite questioned by police

16 Feb, 2022 – A four-year-old British Muslim schoolboy was questioned by police after teachers overheard him talking about Fortnite. This is part of the review into the Government’s Prevent strategy which aims to “reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists”.

The People’s Review of Prevent, which calls to abolish the strategy, found that “there is no problem of integration of British Muslim communities and no basis for regarding them and their families with suspicion” and slammed the policy as ‘Islamophobic’.

Independent: UK must address discrimination concerns over Prevent counter-extremism programme, UN expert says

15 Feb, 2022 – Authorities must urgently address concerns about discrimination and the “de-facto criminalisation of children” in the Prevent counter-extremism programme, a United Nations expert has said.

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in counter-terrorism, said police and the Home Office must have the confidence of all parts of society for “long-term success in preventing violence”.

Middle East Eye: Trojan Horse hoax led to ‘abuses’ of children

15 Feb, 2022 – Simon Hooper reports that the People’s Review of Prevent reveals that the extension of the Prevent programme into schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair has led to children being targeted in ways that amount to abuses of their human rights.

It suggests that the strategy is undermining values that it purports to promote such as tolerance and free expression in the classroom.

CoolnessOfHind: HOW CAN MUSLIMS CONTINUE WORKING FOR PREVENT AFTER THIS DAMNING REPORT?

15 Feb, 2022 – Much ink has been spilt on the “Independent” Reviewer of Prevent and his (un)suitability in the role. The People’s Review of Prevent was set up precisely because the government has no credibility to genuinely lead a review which would fundamentally examine Prevent from the vantage point of both protecting the rights of people and the security of country.

5Pillars: The Trojan Horse affair: A microcosm of how Prevent targets Muslims

Feb 2022 – Dr Layla Aitlhadj, the director of Prevent Watch, argues that the hoax Trojan Horse affair which turned the lives of Muslims in Birmingham upside down was a microcosm of the Prevent “counter-extremism” strategy in action. 

Much discussion has rightfully been reignited about the 2014 Trojan Horse Affair thanks to the brilliant investigative journalism by Hamza Syed and Brian Reed.

IslamChannel: ‘ISLAMOPHOBIC PREVENT’: 73% OF UK MUSLIMS LIVE IN AREAS THAT RECEIVE PREVENT FUNDING, REPORT SAYS

A new report has found that the government’s controversial “counter extremism” programme Prevent still relies on religious profiling of Muslims to assign Prevent funding.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the People’s Review of Prevent revealed that 73% of the UK’s Muslim population live in Prevent Priority Areas (PPAs) which have been kept concealed by the Home Office since 2011.

5Pillars: 73% of Muslims live in areas being injected with millions in Prevent funding

A new report has found that the government’s controversial “counter extremism” programme Prevent still relies on religious profiling of Muslims to assign Prevent funding.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the People’s Review of Prevent revealed that 73% of the UK’s Muslim population live in Prevent Priority Areas (PPAs) which have been kept concealed by the Home Office since 2011.

Discover Society: Preventing Evidence: ‘Rights’ and the Wrongs of Government Policy Reviews

How should civil society today address an increasingly draconian government, one that already has a record of misrepresenting and distorting any evidence presented to it that challenges its intentions? A boycott of the Shawcross Review of Prevent was necessary to communicate the deeply dysfunctional nature of reviews, consultations and other checks on government policy.

Ceasefire: The Shawcross Prevent Review will lead to greater criminalisation of activism — We must stop it

As the official Shawcross review of Prevent gets under way, and a parallel People’s Review gathers steam to challenge it, it is crucial for us to understand the Government’s intentions behind the Shawcross charade, argues Alim Islam.

MEE: Prevent critics launch alternative review of UK counter-terrorism strategy

‘People’s review’ offers ‘grassroots’ platform following widespread boycott of government’s own long-delayed review

5Pillars: People’s review of Prevent launched to ‘give voice to victims’

A “people’s review” of the government’s controversial Prevent counter-extremism policy has been launched.

Prevent Watch says the review will place the people most impacted by the programme at the centre and will provide an alternative to the government’s own review led by the right-winger Willam Shawcross.

Islam21C: People’s Review of Prevent launches independent platform as Shawcross review begins

When the Shawcross review of the Prevent strategy was announced, it galvanised more than 450 Islamic organisations, including 350 mosques and imams, representing a diverse range of Muslim voices. It sent a loud message to the government: we see through the rubber-stamping exercise, and we will not accept it anymore.

Press Release: The People’s Review of Prevent – A Historic First

London – In a historical first, we are launching a People’s Review of the Government’s Prevent programme which places the people most impacted by the programme at the centre of the review. This is being launched by the community based NGO Prevent Watch. The review will provide an alternative to the Government’s own review led by Willam Shawcross which has been controversial.