Indy_Eagle_RedCircle_850Here’s a public letter I was one of many signatories to voicing our concerns about the new PREVENT duties. The letter was published in the Independent at the weekend and can be found by clicking here. The letter is also available via the website Protecting Thought.

PREVENT will have a chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent

We, the undersigned, take issue with the government’s Prevent strategy and its statutory implementation through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 for the following reasons:

1. The latest addition to the United Kingdom’s counter-terrorism framework comes in the form of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (CTS Act). The CTS Act has placed PREVENT on a statutory footing for public bodies to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism by tackling what is claimed to be ‘extremist ideology’. In practice, this will mean that individuals working within statutory organisations must report individuals suspected of being ‘potential terrorists’ to external bodies for ‘de-radicalisation’.

2. The way that PREVENT conceptualises ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ is based on the unsubstantiated view that religious ideology is the primary driving factor for terrorism. Academic research suggests that social, economic and political factors, as well as social exclusion, play a more central role in driving political violence than ideology. Indeed, ideology only becomes appealing when social, economic and political grievances give it legitimacy. Therefore, addressing these issues would lessen the appeal of ideology.

3. However, PREVENT remains fixated on ideology as the primary driver of terrorism. Inevitably, this has meant a focus on religious interaction and Islamic symbolism to assess radicalisation. For example, growing a beard, wearing a hijab or mixing with those who believe Islam has a comprehensive political philosophy are key markers used to identify ‘potential’ terrorism. This serves to reinforce a prejudicial worldview that perceives Islam to be a retrograde and oppressive religion that threatens the West. PREVENT reinforces an ‘us’ and ‘them’ view of the world, divides communities, and sows mistrust of Muslims.

4. While much of the PREVENT policy is aimed at those suspected of ‘Islamist extremism’ and far-right activity, there is genuine concern that other groups will also be affected by such policies, such as anti-austerity and environmental campaigners – largely those engaged in political dissent.

5. Without due reconsideration of PREVENT’s poor reputation, the police and government have attempted to give the programme a veneer of legitimacy by expressing it in the language of ‘safeguarding’. Not only does this depoliticise the issue of radicalisation, it shifts attention away from grievances that drive individuals towards an ideology that legitimises political violence.

6. PREVENT will have a chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent. It will create an environment in which political change can no longer be discussed openly, and will withdraw to unsupervised spaces. Therefore, PREVENT will make us less safe.

7. We believe that PREVENT has failed not only as a strategy but also the very communities it seeks to protect. Instead of blindly attempting to strengthen this project, we call on the government to end its ineffective PREVENT policy and rather adopt an approach that is based on dialogue and openness.

Signatures
(Signing with institution name is for identification purposes and not for institutional endorsement.)

Prof. Baroness Ruth Lister Loughborough University and House of Lords

Karen Armstrong OBE Author and Historian of Religion

Prof. Paddy Hillyard Queen’s University, Belfast

Prof. Tariq Ramadan University of Oxford

Prof. Humayun Ansari Royal Holloway University

Prof. David Miller University of Bath

Prof. John L Esposito Georgetown University

Prof. Laleh Khalili School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Arun Kundnani New York University

Prof. Augustine John University College London Institute of Education

Prof. Gargi Bhattacharyya University of East London

Prof. Tariq Modood University of Bristol

Prof. Robert Gleave University of Exeter

Prof. Bill Bowring Birkbeck College

Prof. John Holmwood University of Nottingham

Prof. Richard Jackson University of Otago

Prof. Gurminder Bhambra University of Warwick

Prof. Marie Breen-Smyth University of Surrey

Prof. Richard Tapper School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Urfan Khaliq Cardiff University

Prof. Julian Petley Brunel University

Prof. David Boucher Cardiff University

Prof. Tim Jacoby University of Manchester

Prof. David Whyte University of Liverpool

Prof. Imran B Chaudhry University of Manchester

Prof. Eric Herring University of Bristol

Prof. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Bob Brecher University of Brighton

Prof. Ian Stronach Liverpool Hope University

Prof. Debbie Epstein University of Roehampton

Prof. Jeremy Keenan School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Adam Gearey Birkbeck College

Prof. Hilary Povey Sheffield Hallam University

Prof. Peter Hallward Kingston University

Prof. Basia Spalek University of Derby

Prof. John O Voll Georgetown University

Dr Tarak Barkawi London School of Economics and Political Science

Abdoolkarim Vakil King’s College London

Asim Qureshi CAGE

Dr Lucy Delap University of Cambridge

Dr Jim Wolfreys King’s College London

Dr Rizwaan Sabir Edge Hill University

Dr Katy Sian University of Manchester

Dr Salman Sayyid University of Leeds

Dr Anna Bull King’s College London

Yahya Birt University of Leeds

Dr Sadek Hamid Liverpool Hope University

Dr Kalpana Wilson London School of Economics and Political Science

Dr Fauzia Ahmad University of Bristol

Bill Bolloten Teacher and education consultant

Dr Nisha Kapoor University of York

Dr Sarmin Hossain Brunel University

Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly University of Warwick

Dr Narzanin Massoumi University of Bath

Dr Tom Mills University of Sussex

Dr Vian Bakir Bangor University

Dr Fahid Qurashi Canterbury Christ Church University

Dr Chris Allen University of Birmingham

Dr Katherine E Brown King’s College London

Dr Qasim Rafiq Aston University

Dr Waqas Tufail Leeds Beckett University

Dr. Féilim Ó hAdhmaill University College Cork

Dr Piers Robinson University of Manchester

Dr Erica Wald Goldsmith’s College, University of London

Dr Paul-Francois Tremlett The Open University

Dr Kasia Narkowicz University of York

Dr Samia Bano School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr Rania Hafez University of Greenwich

Dr Naveed Syed University of Birmingham

Dr Justin Cruickshank University of Birmingham

Dr Emma Briant University of Sheffield

Dr John Smyth University of Huddersfield

Dr Heather Mendick Brunel University

Dr Karima Laachir School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr Nasima Hassan University of East London

Dr Mark Carrigan Centre for Social Ontology

Dr Peter Kennedy Glasgow School of Business for Society

Dr Carl Morris University of Central Lancashire

Dr Haitham al-Haddad The Fatwa Council of Europe

Dr Ian Patel Independent researcher

Dr Uthman Lateef Stoke Poges Masjid and Islamic Centre

Dr Andy Higginbottom Kingston University and KU UCU

Dr Michael Bailey University of Essex

Dr Gwen Ineson Brunel University

Dr Joanna Gilmore University of York

Dr Monish Bhatia Abertay University

Dr Therese O’Toole University of Bristol

Dr David White University of Birmingham

Dr Shamim Miah University of Huddersfield

Dr Mark Hayes Solent University

Dr Terese Jonsson London Metropolitan University

Dr Andy Williams Cardiff University

Dr Lucy Robinson University of Sussex

Dr Fabienne Emmerich Keele University

Dr Galina Yemelianova University of Birmingham

Dr Humaira Saeed Nottingham Trent University

Dr Sheryl Clark Nottingham Trent University

Dr Khadijah Elshayyal University of Edinburgh

Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones Birkbeck College

Dr Cuneyt Cakirlar Nottingham Trent University

Dr Nick Robinson University of Leeds

Dr Naaz Rashid University of Manchester

Dr Mansur Ali Cardiff University

Dr Onni Gust University of Nottingham

Dr Navtej Purewal School of Oriental African Studies

Dr Radha D’Souza University of Westminster

Dr Virinder S Kalra University of Manchester

Dr Christopher Baker-Beall Nottingham Trent University

Dr Nadya Ali University of Reading

Dr Malcolm MacLean University of Gloucestershire

Dr Teodora Todorova University of Nottingham

Dr Julian Wells Kingston University

Dr Sinéad Ring University of Kent

Dr Robin Dunford University of Brighton

Dr Patricia McManus University of Brighton

Dr Reza Pankhurst Author and academic

Dr Sarah Keenan Birkbeck College

Dr Nadine El-Enany Birkbeck College

Dr Samuel Solomon University of Sussex

Dr Emily Wykes University of Nottingham

Dr Sarah Ilott Teesside University

Dr Anna Ball Nottingham Trent University

Dr Ziba Mir-Hosseini School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr Louise Purbrick University of Brighton

Dr Muhammad G Khan Ruskin College, Oxford

Dr Iona Heath Former President of the Royal College of General Practitioners

Dr Hameed Al-Ameen Cardiff University

Dr Jane Essex Brunel University

Dr Adi Kuntsman Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Jan Dobbernack University of Lincoln

Dr Julia Welland University of Warwick

Dr Chris Zebrowski Loughborough University

Dr Laura Zahra McDonald Connect Justice

Dr Mohammed S Seddon British Muslim Heritage Centre

Dr Muzammil Quraishi University of Salford

Dr William Jackson Liverpool John Moores University

Dr John Smith Kingston University

Dr Robert Jeffrey Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Daniel Nilsson DeHanas King’s College London

Dr Nina Power University of Roehampton

Dr Elena Loizidou Birkbeck College

Dr Christopher Horrocks Kingston University

Dr Atsuko Ichijo Kingston University

Dr Amna Afreen Harvard University

Dr Sarah Marusek Independent researcher

Dr Aren Aizura University of Minnesota

Dr Ramon Grosfoguel University of California, Berkeley

Dr Lubica Ucnik Murdoch University

Dr Sue Ashford Murdoch University

Dr Thomas Gregory University of Aukland

Anisa Mustafa University of Nottingham

Milly Williamson Brunel University

Fatima Rajina School of Oriental and African Studies

Ali R Chaudhary University of Oxford

Liam McCann University of Lincoln

Layli Uddin Royal Holloway

Christopher Olley King’s College London

Randy Banks University of Essex

Jimi Cullen University of Oxford

Liz Morrish Nottingham Trent University

Raza Kazim Middlesex University

Atif Jaleel Middlesex University

David Orr University of Central Lacashire

Colin Creighton University of Hull

Amanda Latimer Kingston University

Lisa Tilley University of Warwick

Fleeta J Chew Siegel Kingston University

Jonathan Chu Kingston University

Samuel Barry University of Manchester

Alejandro Forero Cuéllar University of Barcelona

Julie Ward Member of European Parliament for North West England

Simon Barrow Ekklesia Think Tank

Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley The Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies

Hajj Uthman Morrison The Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies

Salma Yaqoob Stop the War – Birmingham

Shaykh Zahir Mahmood Al-Suffa

Shaykh Abdassamad Clarke The Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies

Shaykh Shams ad Duha Ebrahim Community College

Arzu Merali Islamic Human Rights Commission

Vajahat Sharif Tuckers Solicitors

Saghir Hussain HMA Solicitors

Sufyan Ismail Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND)

Azad Ali Muslim Safety Forum

Ismail Patel Friends of Al Aqsa

Imam Shakeel Begg Lewisham Islamic Centre

Mohammed Kozbar Finsbury Park Mosque

Sheraz Ahmed Waltham Forest Council of Mosques

Usman Qureshi Norbury Muslim Centre

Anjum Anwar Women’s Voice

Tafazal Mohammad Muslim Youth Skills

Ananya Rao-Middleton Independent researcher

Gillian Klein Race Equality Teaching

Martin Spafford Retired History teacher

Catherine Duxbury Colchester Institute

Baljeet Singh Gill Ruskin College, Oxford

Tait Coles Dixons City Academy, Bradford

Ali Mahmood Marple Hall School

Fraz Farhat Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre

Matthew Vince Religious education teacher, Torbay

Kate Begley Retired-former teacher

Robin Richardson Insted Consultancy

Sadia Habib Goldsmith’s College, University of London

Hafsah Aneela Bashir University of Leeds

Hilary Aked University of Bath

Christina Pantazis University of Bristol

Ellie Cameron-Smith University of Sussex

Colm McQueen University of Sussex

Abida Malik University of Nottingham

Lewis Hendon-John Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Ibtihal Ramadan Moray House School of Education

Rana Jawad University of Bath

Thomas Martin University of Sussex

Caoimhe Mader McGuinness Queen Mary University

Sitara Akram University of Leeds

Pallavi Mittra University of Strathclyde

Miranda Iossifidis Goldsmiths University

Azeezat Johnson University of Sheffield

Katherine Jenkins University of Sheffield

Nat Raha University of Sussex

Tasnim Alahdal University of Leeds

Gwyneth Lonergan University of Manchester

Ajmal Hussain Aston University

Dinah Rahman Imperial College London

Rob Ferguson National Union of Teachers, Newham

Mike Searby University and College Union, Kingston

Bahar Mustafa Goldsmith’s Students’ Union

Areeb Ullah National Union of Students NEC

Samayya Afzal National Union of Students NEC

Fran Cowling National Union of Students NEC

Simon Englert National Union of Students NEC

Shabina Raja National Union of Students NEC

Beth Redmond National Union of Students NEC

Haaris Ahmed National Union of Students NEC

Barnaby Raine National Union of Students NEC

Sahaya James National Union of Students NEC

Sabrin Adam National Union of Students NEC

Hannah Webb National Union of Students NEC

Shelly Asquith National Union of Students Welfare

Sorana Vieru National Union of Students Higher Education

Noorulann Shahid National Union of Students LGBT Committee

Susuana Amoah National Union of Students Women’s Officer

Malia Bouattia National Black Students’ Campaign

Shabina Raja National Black Students’ Campaign NEC

Annie Teriba National Black Students’ Campaign NEC

Yusuf Hassan Federation of Student Islamic Societies

Mariya Hussain King’s College London Student Union

Nadine Almanasfi King’s College London Student Union

Rachel Williams King’s College London Student Union

Shruti Iyer King’s College London Feminist Society

Joe Simpson King’s College London Student Union

Ali Milani Brunel Students’ Union

Ayesha Fekaiki LSE Students’ Union

Mahamid Ahmed LSE Students’ Union

Nona Buckley Irvine LSE Students’ Union

Hassun El-Zaffar Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union

Sayed Alkadiri Middlesex Students’ Union

Robiu Salisu Swansea Students’ Union

Hannah McCarthy University of Manchester Students’ Union Campaigns

Harriet Pugh University of Manchester Students’ Union Community

Naa Acquah University of Manchester Students’ Union

Hannah Sketchley National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts NC

Aaron Kieley Student Assembly Against Austerity NC

Natasha Brooks University of Manchester Students’ Union

Ayo Akinrele Liverpool Hope University Students’ Union Welfare

Jim Hirsch University of Westminster Students’ Union

Salsabil Sila University of Westminster Students’ Union

Lucy Hallam University of Manchester Students’ Union Wellbeing

John Grayson South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group

Amirah Mohamud University of East London Students’ Union

Tom Phipps Bristol Students’ Union

Mohamed Zain Dadas School of Oriental and African Studies Events

Tasmia Salim University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union

Kavita Bhanot Writer

Hodan Yusuf Journalist

Sheena Sumaria Documentary filmmaker

Clare Sambrook Journalist

Batur Talu Independent researcher on social science

Hamja Ahsan Activist

Rachel Harger Defend the Right to Protest

Hannah Dee Defend the Right to Protest

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