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Cops snoop on Muslims at prayer, school and job centre

Children as young as nine have been referred to the anti-extremism Prevent strategy, reports Judith Orr

Issue No. 2390

Britains mosques face increasing surveillance

Britain's mosques face increasing surveillance (Pic: Simon Felton on Flickr)


The government is ramping up its surveillance and repression of Muslims in Britain, according to a new report published on Monday of this week.

The report by Cage, formerly Cageprisoners, is called the Prevent Strategy: a Cradle to Grave Police State. 

It reveals the extent of state intrusion into the lives of Muslims and the fear and intimidation it causes.

The Labour government set up the Prevent strategy in the wake of the 7 July 2005 bombs in London. It provides funds to local councils, youth groups and other organisations in the name of “combating terrorism”.

The report shows that the government wants to widen the scope of scrutiny Muslims are under, and make aspects of the strategy into law.

This could compel agencies to report on Muslims and their views and behaviour. 

Under Prevent, any “radicalisation” is seen as a problem.

Symptoms of extremism include, “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”. These are defined as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”

Muslims who are witnessed proposing “alternative narrative or political analysis for the causes of violence in the Muslim world are seen as extremist radicalisers, and as a potential pathway to violence.”

Interventions

The report shows that young people are particularly affected. Youth workers and schools collaborate with the police in identifying individuals who then face “de radicalising interventions”. 

The Channel project that targets young people has seen soaring number of young Muslims referred as “at risk” of extremism or violence. This has gone from eight in 2006-7 to 748 in 2012-13.

As many as 35 percent of the referrals were of people under 18 years old.

Referral has taken place for incidents such as children making a comment about the news in school. The youngest referred was a nine year old boy in east London. 

The NHS has been drawn deeper into the scheme as Muslims who seek medical care including for mental health problems can be referred. Muslims attending prayers report non-Muslim police sitting at the Mosques during prayers.  

Muslims have been approached to “spy” on others when signing on for benefits. One man was asked when he reported a burglary to the police. 

The experience of seeing Britain and the West wage imperialist wars in the Middle East over more than ten years is never acknowledged as a possible cause for political radicalisation.

But as the report points  out, that doesn’t stop Prevent using “grievance and comments made about injustice, oppression and foreign policy as evidence of propensity to future violence.”


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Tue 11 Feb 2014, 16:32 GMT
Issue No. 2390
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