Comment: Radicalisation on campus: why counter-terror duties for universities will not work – LSE Religion and the Public Sphere

lse-1Another comment piece I forgot to add when I wrote it a while ago that was published on the LSE’s ‘Religion in the Pubic Sphere’ website – click here to view.

Radicalisation on campus: why counter-terror duties for universities will not work

Universities are now required to provide specialist staff training on radicalisation, carry out risk assessments on the vulnerability of students and have appropriate welfare programmes in place, among other things. While I am acutely aware of the dangers of students being drawn towards extremist ideologies of any persuasion, my concerns are that these new measures will be counter-productive.

One rationale for the new duties is that university staff are uniquely placed to see the changes in the behaviour and outlook of students who have been radicalised. The notion of easily identifiable “changes” have been around for a while, first posited by the then home secretary, John Reid a decade ago. Back then, he was telling Muslim parents about the need to be vigilant in watching their children for the “tell-tale signs” of extremism.

Oft-repeated since, no politician has yet set out exactly what these “tell-tale signs” might be. Neither does the new PREVENT guidance. Unsurprising because in essence, when “changes” or “tell-tale signs” are referred to they are in many ways little more than mere code for becoming “more Muslim”. Whether visual – growing a beard or wearing the niqab for example – or vocal – practising your religion more openly or developing political views about British foreign policy or Palestine for instance – it is the recognition of more Muslim-ness that is problematic.

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JOURNAL: Britishness and Muslim-ness: differentiation, demarcation and discrimination in political discourse

britain firstAt the tail end of last year, I had a new article published in the relatively new academic journal, Identity Papers: A Journal of British and Irish Studies. Titled, Britishness and Muslim-ness: differentiation, demarcation and discrimination in political discourse, it is free to download for everyone by clicking here.

To whet your appetite – if necessary – I’ve pasted the abstract below:

The Britishness agenda found in political speeches, reporting and opinion editorials is here posited as a form of ‘new racism’, as it emphasises the difference between ‘them’, Muslims, and ‘us’, non-Muslim Britons, and uses that difference as a defining demarcation. Twenty-first-century political discourse invested in the Britishness agenda works to eradicate distinctions between British Muslims and non-British Muslims, and even the distinction between those guilty of terrorist atrocities and those who have nothing to do with them. Muslims are framed within this discourse as the problem within multiculturalism, and the problem with multiculturalism. The difficulty of a demand to ‘be more British’ is laid bare.

To read and download, click here.

Birmingham Brief: Has the UK ignored the threat from the far-right?

The University of Birmingham today published my opinion piece on the threat posed by far-right extremism in response to last week’s atrocities in Norway.

You can read the article on the University website by clicking here.

There is also an online poll connected to the opinion piece. You can vote on this by clicking here.

And if you don’t fancy either of those, you can read the piece below:

Do you agree that the UK has ignored the threat from the far right?
Dr Chris Allen

“As news began to break about the atrocities committed in Oslo and Utøya on 22 July, a number of media outlets began to suggest that Al-Qaeda (AQ) was behind the attacks. Disparate reasons were put forward as to why this might be so: Norway’s involvement in Afghanistan and Libya, a recent decision to deport a Muslim cleric and the decision of a Norwegian newspaper to reprint the Danish ‘Prophet Muhammad cartoons’. The next morning, The Sun newspaper was emblazoned with the headline, “Norway’s 9/11”.

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And so it begins: the moderate, moderate mainstream, and moderate mainstream middle-of-the-road Muslims begin to form an orderly queue

Many of those who have heard me speak or present will have heard me suggest my annoyance at the flurry of Muslim organisations that are willing to ‘apologise’ for every Muslim incident wherever it might occur around the world to appease politicians. In fact, I’ve written about it on this blog a few years ago.

Admittedly, this is not always the fault of Muslim organisations: both the previous New Labour and present Coalition Government are guilty of dangling carrots in front of Muslim organisations asking them to leap through whatever hoops are put in front of them in the hope of eventually securing some of that carrot. In other words, to get a share of Government’s funding.

Not only does this internalise the problem for ordinary, everyday Muslims – the people the organisations allegedly ‘represent’ – but so too does is smack of insincerity. As the queue forms of Muslim organisations lining up to tell government – and indeed anyone else who’s listening – that they are ‘moderate Muslims’ so the next organisation is already preparing to set out their ‘moderate mainstream Muslim’ credentials whilst the next in line has planned to state that how they represent ‘moderate mainstream middle-of-the-road Muslim’. The next in line probably deny they are Muslims at all…!!!

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Against Complacency: new article on the MCB’s Soundings

A revised version of my blog article, Theresa May and Coalition Government accused of ‘complacency’ over re-hashing failed New Labour policies has now been published on the MCB’s Soundings web-page as part of its PREVENT 2011: towards informed responses feature. You can view the revised version, Against Complacency, by clicking here.

As well as my own article, there will soon be responses to the Coalition Government’s review of the Prevent strategy posted from such commentators as Richard Jackson, David Tyrer, Shamim Miah, Alana Lentin, Derek McGhee, Fahid Qurashi, Yahya Birt, Yunis Alam, Katherine E. Brown and Laura Zahra McDonald amongst others. Already published is an article by my colleague Basia Spalek entitled, A Top Down Approach.

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Theresa May and Coalition Government accused of ‘complacency’ over re-hashing failed New Labour policies

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, today pre-empted the publication of the revised Prevent strategy by criticising universities for their apparent “complacency” in tackling radicalisation and Islamic extremism on campus.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, May said:

“I think for too long there’s been complacency around universities. I don’t think they have been sufficiently willing to recognise what can be happening on their campuses and the radicalisation that can take place. I think there is more that universities can do”

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10 out 10 Domestic Terrorists prefer NOT to be Muslim (and other interesting stats…)

prisonEarlier this week, figures released by the Home Office highlighted that since 9/11, just 13% of those arrested under terrorism laws had been convicted of terror or terror related offences.

Of those arrested, 102 were convicted of terror offences and 94 were convicted on terror-related charges. From the total number of arrests 56% were not charged at all (although some have had further action taken against them on matters such as immigration for instance). At present, there are currently 125 terrorist prisoners in England and Wales of which 91% define themselves as Muslim.

But, as the headline suggests, this is not the complete picture. Start to play with these statistics and they make some interesting reading.

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Download Birmingham’s ‘Independent’ Evaluation of its PVE Pathfinder for free

bcc-logoIn my post last week about the ‘Independent’ evaluation of Birmingham’s PVE Pathfinder by Waterhouse Consulting Group, I wrote:

Lacking evidence, robustness, consistency and insight, I doubt whether the report – despite its pretensions to independence – will alleviate the criticisms that have already been posited at Birmingham City Council or answer the many questions that – unfortunately – continue to remain unanswered

If you don’t want to take my word for it, I can now exclusively offer the full and unadulterated ‘independent’ report for free.

Click here to download the ‘independent’ evaluation report for free

Just in case anybody is worried about this – or wants to threaten me (you know who you are…!!!) – I have written clearance from the Equalities Department of Birmingham City Council to share the report given that it is now ‘public’.

Download, disseminate and disagree.

‘Independent’ Evaluation of Birmingham’s PVE Pathfinder Published


Tonight at the Burlington Hotel in Birmingham around 70 people (including two children and four members of staff from Waterhouse Consulting Group) were presented with the findings from the ‘independent’ evaluation of Birmingham City Council’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) Pathfinder programme.

The evaluation report, despite focusing on Birmingham’s PVE Pathfinder was strangely emblazoned with images of the bombed out bus carcass from the 7/7 bombings (see right), a London tube station sign with the phrase ‘We are not afraid’ written across it, and a London Evening Standard poster pronouncing ‘Terrorists attack London – many dead’ (nothing like reinforcing the stereotypes that you’re trying to combat). I hasten to add that there were also images of the bull statue from the Bull Ring as well as the Selfridges building, so at least two from five images had some relevance to the second city. Even more incredibly, the powerpoint presentation by Waterhouse Consulting Group’s Waqar Azmi also had the 7/7 bus carcass image included on every slide.

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