The long awaited report entitled “Rethinking Prevent: A Case for an Alternative Approach”, supported by the Open Society Foundations, examines the chilling effect Prevent is having on society. The report makes a number of recommendations for policymakers to consider, with the hope that future decisions related to counter terrorism are grounded first and foremost in respect for human rights and civil liberties.
The report comes at a critical time when there has been a loud chorus of voices calling for an independent review of the strategy from the National Union of Teachers (NUT), activists, cross-party MPs, campaigners, faith communities, to the Government’s own reviewer of terrorism legislation. Based on in-depth interviews with 36 individuals, the report highlights the following:
- Prevent is built upon a foundation of Islamophobia and racism, a reliance on stereotypes which can be seen in the fact Muslim communities are often regarded as collectively suspect, whilst far-right extremism is downplayed.
- Prevent has contributed to a climate of fear and self-censorship primarily but not exclusively among British Muslims.
- Numerous human rights abuses have been carried out through the implementation of Prevent, targeting mostly British Muslim men and also activists because of their dissenting views.
- Prevent is ineffective and counterproductive, a fact compounded by the introduction of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
- Respondents expressed concern about the disproportionate and discriminatory counter terrorism focus of Prevent on Muslim communities. Recent evidence suggests practitioners from some institutions are interpreting their responsibilities under the umbrella of Prevent as a requirement to focus their attention on Muslims.
- The impact of austerity and the withdrawal of youth services has led to an increasing number of interventions carried out under the framework of counter terrorism.
- With no evidence to support the successes of the Prevent strategy, there is a lack of transparency and accountability that must be questioned.
- A generation of politicised British Muslim activists have emerged who are democratically challenging the government’s approach to counter-terrorism.
To find out more about the report click here.