JOURNAL ARTICLE: Controversy: Is Prevent Harming Universities? – Political Insight

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Click here to link to my recently published journal article in Political Insight. The piece offers a critique of the PREVENT statutory duty placed on universities and higher education institutions. I have pasted the opening paragraph or so below for you to have a look at.

As with many academic journals, it’s likely that you will need to either pay or have an institutional username and password to access it. Please accept my apologies if this is the case but as you will be aware from previous posts, I always try and ensure as much of my writing is open access and available to all. Sometimes though it just cannot be avoided.

Controversy: Is Prevent Harming Universities?

In March 2015, Mohammed Umar Farooq was studying for an MA in Terrorism, Crime
and Global Security MA programme at Staffordshire University. Among the
recommended readings was a text entitled, Terrorism Studies. While sitting in the
University’s main library reading that book, a member of the University’s staff quizzed
Farooq about his religion and his attitudes towards homosexuality, and Islamic State
and al-Qaida. Following the conversation, Farooq was reported to University security
guards who proceeded to interview him on many of the same topics. After three months
of investigations, Staffordshire University eventually apologised to Farooq for the
distress caused. It chose, however, not to extend the apology to the fact that the
member of staff in question was suspicious about a terrorism student’s motivations for
reading on a book on terrorism – because Farooq had been identified as a Muslim. As the
University put it, while the member of staff had ‘misjudged’, the sight of seeing Farooq reading Terrorism Studies had raised ‘too many red flags’ not to act. 

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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.

To continue reading, click here.

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”.

Continue reading “Birmingham Brief: Has the UK ignored the threat from the far-right?”

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…!!!

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

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.

Continue reading “Against Complacency: new article on the MCB’s Soundings”

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”

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