Prevent – A Police State-in-the-making – Welcome to 1984
Prevent – A Police State-in-the-making – Welcome to 1984
Muslims at prayer – all natural suspects
The Prevent Duty, introduced by the Counter Terrorism Act 2015 puts the
previous Prevent programme on a statutory footing. Now doctors, health workers, teachers, local
authority workers and any other public worker is under a duty to monitor those
they encounter for ‘extremism’ and inform on them.
It is no exaggeration to say that the duty to inform on parents, relatives
or children is no different in principle to the same duty in the Hitler Youth
or Stalinist Russia. It is the hallmark
of a Police State-in-the-making
One thing the Prevent programme is not about is preventing terrorism. On the contrary the repression and intrusion
involved is more likely than not to drive people into terrorist acts. It is about surveillance and political
control. Hence why there is now the term
‘non violent extremism’ in other words ideas and politics beyond the
politically acceptable in a capitalist society are now deemed ‘extremist’.
This is not new. There was a time
when radical and subversive ideas were caught by the criminal offence of
sedition and in 1918 the Scottish revolutionary, John McLean was gaoled for 5
years for sedition, opposing the first world war. In the United States, in the era of
McCarthyism, over a hundred communists were gaoled for sedition under the Smith
Act until the Supreme Court ruled in 1958 that people could only be gaoled for
their actions not their beliefs.
It would seem that Britain is now back in the early McCarthyist stage. Advocates of ‘extremist’ ideas, supporting the
Palestinians or the overthrow of the British state, i.e. Marxism can all be
classified as ‘non violent terrorism’.
‘Extremism’ is defined as opposition to British values. And what, apart from hypocrisy, are British values? The torture and concentration camps like Hola
in Kenya or those in the Boer War in South Africa? The Amritsar massacre in India? Or perhaps the starvation of 30 million
Bengalis under the British Empire?
The truth is that the very idea that there are British as opposed to
universal values is itself a racist concept.
Tolerance, opposition to racism, torture, arbitrary imprisonment are
human values. British values are
probably best expressed by the Daily Mail and Daily Express which campaigned
against the entry of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism before the second world war
and fleeing the pogroms in Czarist Russia before the first world war.
As Barry Goldwater, the right-wing Republican candidate in the US Presidential
elections in 1964 said:
‘Extremism in defence of liberty is no vice and Moderation in pursuit of
justice is no virtue.’
Leaked Prevent training documents aimed at schools and universities list
Palestine, Syria and rise of IS as issues requiring ‘careful monitoring’
Palestinian solidarity demonstration in London against Israel’s bombing of Gaza – the new ‘extremism’
staff at British universities, colleges and schools are being encouraged to
consider Muslim students who display an interest in Palestinian issues as
vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism, leaked training documents have
advice is contained in e-learning presentations being offered commercially to
schools and higher education institutions to help them train their staff to
fulfil their obligations under the government’s Prevent counter-extremism
strategy to monitor students for radicalisation.
Britain’s Police State Home Secretary – Theresa May
presentations, which have been produced by educational consultancy firm
Marshall E-Learning, list Palestine alongside Syria and the growth of the
Islamic State (IS) group as issues that need “careful monitoring by those
involved in safeguarding”.
a section entitled “Extremism FAQs,” in response to the question “Isn’t it all
just about Muslims?” the presentation states that “Islam has become a focus for
acts of terrorism both in the UK and across the world”.
says that the vast majority of UK Muslims are opposed to extremism and that
“Muslims should never be treated as a ‘suspect community’,” but adds:
“Nevertheless, as recent stories involving vulnerable pupils have shown, issues
around Palestine, Syria and the growth of ISIL/ISIS require careful
Muslim school pupils – all suspects – must be carefully monitored for ‘extremism’
training presentations are not part of the government’s official Prevent
training material for public sector workers, commonly known as WRAP
(Workshops to raise awareness of Prevent), which more than 350,000 public
sector workers have undertaken in the past five years, according to the Home
Marshall states on its website that its Prevent training courses, which
are also marketed at prisons, healthcare providers and local authorities,
“provide an excellent introduction or refresher for dealing with extremism and
the introduction of a new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act last year,
teachers and other public sector workers have had a legal duty to have
“due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into
e-learning presentations and official WRAP training material were among a batch
of documents published
online on Wednesday by the civil liberties campaign group Cage, which said
it was making them public in the interests of transparency amid concerns about
the extension of Prevent into schools and other public sector settings and
complaints in Muslim communities that the strategy is discriminatory.
said that freedom of information requests concerning Prevent training material
had been repeatedly blocked by the Home Office. It said one request was
rejected on the grounds it could “increase the risk from terrorism”
by “providing useful information to extremists who wish to radicalise
others about how public sector workers are trained to spot the signs of
has decided to make this information available to the public as a necessary
step to allow academics, researchers, campaigners, journalists and students to
research and analyse Prevent training,” said Ibrahim Mohamoud, Cage’s
assumption that public sector workers can be trained in a few hours on a
complex issue such as understanding the pathways to politically motivated
violence is naive and dangerous.
only adds to the alienation being fed by anti-Muslim attacks by politicians and
told Middle East Eye that highlighting Palestine as an issue potentially linked
to extremism risked “problematising” an issue of concern to Muslim
communities in the UK and could lead to inappropriate referrals to Channel, the
government’s police-led counter-radicalisation programme for young people.
and the politics that surround the conflict in the region is very close to
large portions of Muslim communities in the UK. With the presentation
specifically singling it out for mention, the training problematises what would
usually be considered positive social justice concern,” he said.
week, David Anderson, the UK’s independent reviewer of terrorism
legislation, called for an independent inquiry into Prevent, citing
concerns that aspects of the programme were ineffective and being applied in an
“insensitive or discriminatory manner”.
UK parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights also announced an inquiry into
the government’s counter-extremism strategy and its compliance with European
human rights law.
activism has been flagged up in other training material produced for teachers
and public sector workers as a possible indicator of radicalisation.
A police leaflet produced for schools in 2014 to
help teachers make judgments about referrals to Channel included a case study
in which a student’s discussion of “Palestine and other international
conflicts” was deemed salient information.
year, a teenaged boy revealed he had been questioned by police and accused of holding “terrorist-like views”after being referred to
Channel by teachers after distributing leaflets for Friends of al-Aqsa, a
Palestinian rights organisation, during Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza.
also reported being told by police that they should “keep an eye” on students
who attended demonstrations against Israeli bombing in Gaza.
are conflating a political issue, which requires a political solution, with
extremism and stifling that debate actually breeds extremism,” Ismail Patel,
chairman of Friends of al-Aqsa, told MEE.
need to appreciate that if we stifle debate it means that people will feel that
their rights are being eroded and they have no other means to express their
Howard, a spokesman for Marshall, told MEE that the company had taken care to
ensure that its Prevent training courses were “developed in a very
objective and non-political way”.
aim was to fulfil a legislative remit for educational establishments within the
UK. We took a lot of advice from interested parties and from a legal
perspective to ensure that it is not an anti-Muslim course,” he said.
said the course did not single out Palestine as an issue but mentioned it along
with other “issue sets” related to extremism, such as the activities
of the Animal Liberation Front and far-right groups.
don’t specifically target Palestine as an issue area. We talk about all
extremism that could lead to radicalisation,” he said.
Home Office spokesperson told MEE that there were a range of commercial
suppliers of counter-radicalisation training and said that Marshall’s materials
were separate to the government’s.
also said there was no mention of Palestine in official WRAP training material
and stressed that the government did not consider support or sympathy for the
Palestinian cause to be an indicator of vulnerability to radicalisation.