surviving society: how prevent facilitates the far-right

The claim to target the far-right was a red herring to bring Muslims on board with Prevent. Now, the government is saying that to target the far-right would be to police “mainstream” views shared by many in government. What is going on?

We are told that the Shawcross Review of Prevent will recommend that it should redouble its focus on the Muslim community, despite recommendations from counter terrorism experts about the rising “terrorist threat” from the “far-right” and “incels”.

Prior to 2011, Prevent was openly defined as a policy against “Muslim extremism”, and only after 2011 was their talk of involving other “extremisms”.

We do believe that there should be equality in how different forms of extremism are addressed, but we do not think that Prevent is fit for purpose. Nor do we think that the answer lies in policing and monitoring of young people.

Schools have local policies that can deal with issues. A lot of the far-right cases that we have seen at Prevent Watch are also situations that could have been dealt with by a teacher through their bullying policies, and even used as ‘teachable moments”.

The involvement of Prevent was unnecessary and equally traumatising to the child and damaging to the parent-child-teacher relationship as it has been for Muslims.

Yet we also see that the far-right is being excused and even tacitly enabled by government policies where instead of promoting anti-racism in schools, anti-racism activism, such as BLM, is itself described as extremist.

The “refocus” of Prevent to target Muslims who are active in civil society, and the downplaying of the far-right in relation to Prevent should not be a surprise to us.

The positioning of the far-right “defending British values” is quite clearly supported by people like Robin Simcox, recently appointed as the Commissioner for Countering Extremism!

Simcox has said that the far-right holds many of the same values as those on the right within government and that a policy that casts these views as “extreme”, “would not find broad support” and would be anti-democratic.

So, taken together with anti-protest legislation, it should be obvious that Prevent is being used to mainstream nationalist ideology, and even criminalise democratic forms of dissent and challenge – this is happening even to children.

So there’s never been a better time to build solidarity against Prevent.

For more, listen to Surviving Society podcast ‘Legacies of the War on Terror’ on your chosen platform here.


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