The counter-terrorism Prevent programme, which has been dogged by claims of being a canopy to spy on Muslim communities, is now not match for function and ought to be “ideologically blind”, a authorities adviser has stated.
The technique is at the moment the topic of a evaluation by Sir William Shawcross, and leaks counsel it’ll conclude that Prevent has been too centered on rightwing extremism lately. Instead it’ll say there ought to be a renewed deal with Islamist extremism, the leaks present, prompting accusations that the findings are politically motivated.
Speaking to Nick Robinson on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, Dame Sara Khan, a campaigner who has been accused previously of being a mouthpiece for the Home Office, stated the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy was “completely outdated, it’s no longer fit for purpose”.
The former counter-extremism commissioner, who now advises the levelling up secretary, Michael Gove, on social cohesion, stated: “Good policy has to be ideologically blind … There’s far right, Islamist, Sikh, there’s Hindu nationalism, there’s all different types of extremism, there’s far left, for example. You’ve got to deal with all of those types of problems, and only trying to focus on one at the expense of others is totally counterproductive.”
Last 12 months was the primary time the variety of referrals to Prevent regarding far-right extremism exceeded these for Islamist radicalisation. Referrals for far-right threats from the Prevent programme to Channel, which supplies extra intensive intervention, had already outstripped Islamist radicalisation since 2019-20.
Khan stated Muslims’ distrust of Prevent had been fuelled by the federal government’s failure to elucidate its function. “They didn’t go out and explain to Muslim communities what Prevent is about,” she stated. “In essence, they left a vacuum [which Islamists stepped into] … I think having that engagement, continuing to engage with communities, explaining what the programme is, addressing concerns, I think that’s got to continue in a much better way than we’ve seen previously.”
When Khan was appointed to steer the newly shaped Commission for Countering Extremism in 2018, critics included the previous Tory chair Sayeeda Warsi, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Labour MP Naz Shah.
Khan informed the BBC that the feedback by Warsi, who described her as being seen by many as “a creation of and mouthpiece for the Home Office”, in addition to not related to British Muslims, have been “ludicrous”.
She stated she was clear that there was “genuine hatred” in opposition to Muslims within the UK however that Islamist extremists had exploited Islamophobia.
“We know that there is discrimination against Muslims in the workplace and so forth,” she stated. “However, having said that, I am also very aware that there are Islamist groups in this country who have adopted the language of Islamophobia to use it as a cover for Islamist extremism … So for example, when Islamist groups say if I talk or you talk and condemn Islamist extremism and now we are suddenly labelled Islamophobic, that’s totally and utterly unacceptable. And what that’s trying to do is actually silence dissent, it’s actually creating a climate of censorship and fear.”