Socialist Worker

Activists resist Tories' Islamophobic Prevent strategy and racism

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2535

A protest over racial harassment in Currie, Edinburgh

A protest over racial harassment in Currie, Edinburgh (Pic: Stand Up To Racism Scotland)


Some 60 children a week were referred under the Tories’ Islamophobic “Prevent” strategy between March 2015 and March 2016.

Of the 7,500 referrals, 3,100 were children under the age of 18 and 610 were under the age of 10.

Tony Blair’s New Labour brought in Prevent in 2005.

Now the Tories’ Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 forces public sector workers to spy on Muslims for signs of “radicalisation”.

New government figures show the scale of this racist assault. But the state wants to bolster it.

On 27 December Simon Cole, chief constable of Leicestershire police, lashed out against “hysterical” criticism of Prevent as a “spy programme”.

He claimed it was “absolutely fundamental” to fighting terrorism in Britain. But growing opposition has forced the authorities to try to hide their blatant Islamophobia.

So Cole claimed that the Prevent programme was about “putting an arm around” people at risk of radicalisation.

But Prevent has racism and oppression built into it. The figures showed that of the 7,500 people referred under Prevent some 54 percent related to “Islamic extremism”.

Anti-racists and Muslims are beginning to join forces to resist Prevent.

Around 100 people joined a meeting last week on fighting the scheme in Bethnal Green, east London, organised by detainee rights campaign Cage.

Challenge

Asim Qureshi from Cage told the meeting, “Muslim children are being taken away from their families—we have to challenge this. This fits into structural racism.”

Muslim school and college students are at the sharp end of Prevent.

Some local authorities and schools take a softer approach to implementing the strategy.

But the Tories are determined to enforce it and hope to use schools inspectorate Ofsted to bear down on schools and teachers.

Sultana, a school worker from east London, told the meeting, “We’re a school that’s felt the full weight of so called independent bodies.

“The head inspector was a Muslim man, but there was another inspector from Whitehall who was sent to inspect him.”

She added, “As school staff we’ve realised that we can’t take this sitting down and have to take it on.”

The Islamophobia being pushed from the top is driving racist attacks.

Some 200 people protested in solidarity with a Muslim woman who was attacked in Chingford, north east London, on 21 December.

It was organised jointly by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend).

Anti-racists also held a solidarity protest in Currie in Edinburgh on 17 December.

The protest was called after two local residents were subjected to racial harassment by four white youths.

This shows the potential to build a powerful Stand Up To Racism movement against racism that can push back the Tories’ assault.

Prevent—why we should dissent. A new pamphlet brought out jointly by Stand Up To Racism and Muslim Engagement and Development for £2. Email info@standuptoracism.org.uk to order copies and for details of your local group

 


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