The official website of Mohammed Ansar
THE MASS BOYCOTT OF THE UK GOVERNMENT’S COUNTER EXTREMISM PROGRAM
Follow Mo on Twitter @MoAnsar
There were blacklists of dodgy Muslims. There were CCTV cameras put up in areas where large Muslim populations lived. There were computer software programs used to monitor and track which of our children used computers at school to Google terms like Islam, Jihad and Al-Qaeda. There was the diverting of funds from street programs which would have intercepted the Woolwich killers.
There was the mapping and monitoring of Muslims communities in England. There was the disenfranchisement, demonisation and marginalisation of Muslims and their organisations. There was spying. There was not only the radicalisation of Muslim school pupils but the facilitating of them to go to Syria and join ISIS. There was the feeding of misinformation to the media and keeping the truth from parents and then blaming them.
There was McCarthyism and hysteria. There was a Channel program to deal with extremists which had school children and even toddlers as young as three years of age, referred to it. There was a legal duty to ostensibly force people to spy on and monitor Muslim school children, which teaching unions, student unions and groups then rejected.
There was complacency over far right extremism which allowed the rise of anti-Muslim prejudice and which created the climate of hate leading to attacks on Muslims, mosques and the mass disenfranchisement of Muslims from the workplace.
There was a media peddling hate and hysteria about Muslims. There was a Leveson inquiry which established that our news media was inventing anti-Muslim stories fuelling prejudice and nothing was done about it because people thought it was about phone-hacking. There was a false Trojan Horse scandal used to close down the influence of Muslims in schools and to bring in draconian anti-Muslim measures.
There was the promotion of a discredited conveyor belt to radicalisation theory. There was funding and working with Islamophobic interests looking to undermine Islam and Muslim lives, and who promoted the altering of Islam and religious scriptures.
There was mass disengagement and the rejection of a neoconservative program that became a conduit for an attack on Islam and Muslims, sycophancy, and a program of work which disengaged exactly the communities it was seeking to serve and support. Muslim communities disengaged. Non-Muslim communities disengaged. Extremism increased. People came to distrust the government and their programs of work with Muslim communities.
Despite this overwhelming mass of evidence, there are some who still continue to argue that the PREVENT program is effective. Not to say there have not been heroes on both sides, or that there has not been good practice in some areas, there was. However, when the vision becomes so confused and the deliverables so compromised, it’s time to bring it to an end. For years, the police and security services were desperate to find a way to mainstream PREVENT and finally they found it. On the back of the endemic paedophilia which afflicts 50 children a day in the UK, PREVENT is being handled as a safeguarding issue. Child protection is now the vehicle for preventing violent extremism. I have spoken to intelligence officers who confirm that tackling the rising tide of far right extremism and anti-Muslim prejudice is not a strategic and operational priority. Complacency around the far right has now become wilful complicity.
My discussion with Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman of the Tory’s oldest think tank, the Bow Group, highlighted precisely this gulf in understanding and the stubborn denials of the reality. It was bad enough Harris-Quinney didn’t seem to understand Snowden’s revelations showed us that the UK’s approach to mass surveillance is a thing the US can only dream about. We do their dirty work. We do far worse.
Earlier this year, I broke the story on social media about school children in Waltham Forest being subjected to the B.R.I.T. program which was asking primary school children the most impossible of ‘gotcha’ questions that even adults would struggle to answer.
The position has now escalated to the point where Waltham Forest Council of Mosques who represent 70,000 Muslims, has decided enough is enough: they are completely boycotting PREVENT.
There doesn’t appear to be a palliative care pathway for PREVENT. That it’s broken beyond repair was perfectly highlighted with my recent attendance (as an observer now, hunter turned gamekeeper) of a workshop being delivered by a local authority PREVENT officer in the South. Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble; a worse concoction of fear mongering, paranoia and disinformation, I have not seen. It says enough that I had to ask this officer to moderate his language a year earlier, having seen him parrot EDL-style anti-Muslim rhetoric against Muslim organisations and individuals, who in turn had complained to me. You cannot underestimate the paranoia and distrust fomented in the minds of well intentioned teachers who are exposed to such rhetoric. We are seeding problems for the future.
It’s time the PREVENT program was labelled toxic waste, put into a sealed drum and buried at sea. Consigned to the annals of history. It’s time we accepted that it has failed. Beyond the point of root-and-branch reform, we need a new program, with new players and most importantly, a fresh new thinking.
“Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion, is the best proof of stupidity” ~ Michel de Montaigne
It’s a tough political lesson but with the UK now directly involved militarily for the foreseeable future in Syria, and following attacks in Paris and the US, it’s simply a thing we can no longer afford to keep getting wrong. Stubbornness might prove more expensive than we realise.