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Press release: UK - Outrage over Muslim schoolchildren being profiled for 'extremism'

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IHRC appalled at questionnaire

IHRC is shocked to hear that primary schoolchildren in London are being profiled for signs of so-called extremism.

Children at the predominantly Muslim Buxton School in Leytonstone, East London, were issued with questionnaires soliciting their views on a range of issues and hypothetical cases designed to tease out any "extremist" tendencies.

They ask a series of highly loaded questions which seem to be based on a perception of extremism and radicalisation held by right-wing neo-cons.

The questionnaires are believed to have been issued as part of the government's anti-radicalisation Prevent programme which has been widely criticised as a social engineering exercise designed to fashion a secular and more politically compliant Muslim community. Prevent aims to change opinions amongst British Muslims by deploying counter-narratives to challenge so-called violent extremism and by promoting so-called ‘core British values’.

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act, which became law in February, puts a responsibility on schools to prevent youngsters falling into the clutches of extremist groups. The government has made it clear that schools will also have to actively promote ‘British values’ and will be judged by the schools’ watchdog Ofsted on how well they teach them.

The questions include:

If you need advice who would you talk to?

  • Family member
  • Teacher
  • Religious teacher or leader
  • Friend
  • Other

How much do you trust people from this group?

  • My family
  • My neighbourhood
  • People of my race or religion
  • People of another race or religion
  • Police officer
  • School teacher

Please tell us your opinion on the following statements:

  • People from a different religion are probably just as good as people from mine
  • People should be free to say what they like, even if it offends others
  • Religious books are to be understood word for word
  • If a student was making fun of my race or religion, I would try to make them stop ñ even of it required hurting them
  • I believe my religion is the only correct one
  • It is my duty to defend my community from others that might threaten it
  • It is important to question what grown-ups tell you
  • It’s never okay to use physical force to solve a problem
  • God has a purpose for me
  • I think most British people respect my race or religion
  • It is okay to marry someone from a different race or religion
  • I would do what a grown-up told me to do even if it seemed odd to me
  • I would mind if a family of a different race or religion moved next door
  • Women are just as good as men at work

IHRC is concerned that if children answer honestly to any of the questions they could be singled out for intervention under Prevent including being put on a watch list.

IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “They’re obviously targeting Muslim children and trying to pick their brains and thoughts and effectively profile them," he said. But at this young age we should be thinking of nurturing and developing our children, not compartmentalising them. It’s also clearly racist and Islamophobic ñ there would be uproar if they had mentioned ‘Jew’ or ‘black’ in the identity question. This reminds me of the prelude to the Nazi holocaust when Jews were profiled before they started putting Stars of David on them.”

Notes to editors:

For media enquiries please email media@ihrc.org or call 020 8904 4222 or 07958 522196[Ends]

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