From: Islamic Human Rights Commission
10 November 2017
PRESS RELEASE – UK: Government statistics highlight hidden purpose of Prevent “anti-terror” programme
Figures published yesterday by the Home Office showing an exponential increase in the number of Muslims being reported to the controversial Prevent anti-terror programme reinforce the widely held view that it is being used as a cudgel to batter the minority community.
Of all referrals made in 2015-2016, 65% were for matters relating to so-called Islamic extremism meaning that Muslims, who represent 4% of Britain’s population, were over 40 times more likely to be tagged by Prevent than non-Muslims.
More worryingly, of the 4,997 people referred to Prevent for “Islamic extremism” 1,504 were children under the age of 15, vindicating concerns that the duty imposed on public sector professionals such as teachers and health workers to report individuals at risk of extremism has led to increased targeting of the Muslim community.
This is put into sharp relief by the fact that out of these nearly 5000 referrals only 264 or just over 5% were passed on to the Channel deradicalisation programme.
The low percentage of actual extremists caught in what is essentially a dragnet only reinforces the criticism that Prevent is counter-productive as it is alienating the Muslim community in the same way that stop and search laws alienated Britain’s Afro-Caribbean community in the 1970’s and 80’s.
From the very beginning IHRC has seen Prevent as a social engineering and spying exercise to transform attitudes in the Muslim community and gather intelligence on its members. As an integral part of discriminatory anti-terrorism legislation Prevent has become an aggressive tool for the state to control the community.
“We and many other organisations argued that the Prevent duty introduced in 2015 would lead to an increase in the number of reports made as well as the increased stigmatisation and criminalisation of the Muslim community. These numbers, unfortunately, show that we were right,” said IHRC spokesman Abed Choudhury.
“What these numbers hide is the impact of Prevent on the Muslim community, the fear it has instilled in parents, the way students self-censor incase they are misunderstood, the emotional trauma families go through as a result of a Prevent referral. The impact of Prevent on the Muslim community has been far reaching and extremely damaging. Dividing communities into perpetrators and victims, as PREVENT does, is divisive, counter productive, presents a false narrative and does not really lead to an actual solution to the problems we face. The first step in undoing this this is scrapping the Prevent programme in its entirety.”
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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598