Socialist Worker

Preventing Violent Extremism: who defines ‘extremism’?

by Michael Lavalette, socialist councillor in Preston
Issue No. 2140

For the last two years the government has attempted to divide the Muslim community in this country by launching a programme called Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE).

PVE has come with substantial sums of money that can be directed towards projects aimed at stopping “extremism”.

But PVE isn’t about providing services. It is about obtaining surveillance and criminalising sections of the Muslim community.

How is a potential “extremist” defined? People who fall under suspicion include those who have an interest in global politics. So opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or to the murderous regime in Israel, could lead to you getting targeted by PVE surveillance.

PVE is actually an extension of the “war on terror”. Its intention is to isolate the “enemy within”.

Similar tactics were used by the British state to intimidate the Irish community in the 1970s, and against Communist Party members during the Cold War.

The PVE agenda rewards a few hand-picked “community leaders”, but turns them into an arm of the security services.

The harassment faced by nine innocent Muslim men in Lancashire should bring to an end this form of “engagement”.


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