The government’s own terror watchdog has called for an independent review into its Islamophobic Prevent strategy.
David Anderson QC, who reviews terror legislation, said, “The “lack of transparency in the operation of Prevent encourages rumour and mistrust to spread and fester.”
Writing to the home affairs select committee, Anderson added that “it is also possible that aspects of the programme are being applied in an insensitive or discriminatory manner.”
Prevent forces public sector workers to spy for signs of “radicalisation”—mainly targeting Muslims. But Anderson’s comments show the growing pressure the government is under as Muslims refuse to be silenced.
Over 100 people attended a meeting against Prevent in Waltham Forest, east London, last night. It was organised by the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques and Stand Up to Racism.
Shazia from east London told Socialist Worker, “You have to take the lifeblood away from Prevent. It’s the idea that Islam leads to violence.
“We have to be much more confident as Muslims to speak out against it.”
The Tories and the right wing media are smearing anyone who speaks out against Prevent as a “terrorist sympathiser”. The latest attack, by Andrew Gilligan in the Telegraph newspaper last Sunday, targeted Muslim parent Ifhat Smith.
Ifhat told the meeting, “Why was I attacked in that way in the Telegraph? Because I oppose Prevent. I do want Prevent removed—if there’s an injustice happening it should be stopped.”
Her 14 year old son was pulled out of class at school and asked if he was affiliated to Isis for using the word “eco terrorism".
Alex Kenny, from NUT teachers’ union national executive, said, “Prevent should be withdrawn from schools—it’s doing damage to the relationship between teachers and pupils.
“If we’re being labelled as soft on terror then David Anderson QC can be added to the long list that Andrew Gilligan is trying to besmirch.”
Other speakers included Haras Ahmed, Steven Saxby and Jahangir Mohammed.
Anderson claimed that “the Prevent programme is clearly suffering from a widespread problem of perception”.
The problem is not “perception” or isolated “excesses” but state-sponsored Islamophobia.
Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism told the meeting, “We’re facing a racist offensive led by the government—this is going to be a difficult fight.
“But the government hasn’t won the argument on Prevent and there’s a mass opening of people speaking out about refugees.”
Ifhat added, “As individuals we are powerless, but the fact the Telegraph article was done shows there’s fear among the Establishment. Unless we speak out, Prevent has won.