The “independent” review of the Prevent strategy is simply the work of right-wing Islamophobic lobbies within the state, who have spent four years working towards a pre-determined outcome. The reviewer, William Shawcross, has a well-documented history2 of lobbying for increased surveillance of the Muslim community and in particular Islamic Societies (ISocs) – and has previously served as director of the Henry Jackson Society, who regularly curate reports of ISoc events they deem to be “extremist.” During his time as the chair of the Charity Commission, the body oversaw an unprecedented crackdown on Muslim and pro-Palestine charities3 – something that he has attempted to institutionalise further through recommendations in this latest report.
The report recommends referring to Prevent those who are expressive of their Islamic faith and are thereby “susceptible to extremism”, calling for a renewed focus on Muslims by the programme. Fundamentally, Prevent aims to suppress anyone with diverging beliefs and in particular, censor the views of the Muslim community. Therefore, the Government is now moving to “counter the anti-Prevent campaign at universities4”, where students and staff have worked together to challenge the damaging effects of the Prevent duty. In her address to parliament, the Home Secretary referred to the need to “continue to work closely with Muslim communities5” – yet conveniently skipped the fact that 550 Muslim organisations and 17 NGOs condemned and boycotted this very review6, due to the clear contempt shown towards Muslim and civil society during the course of the review, and in particular with Shawcross’ appointment
Jakir Ahmed, FOSIS’ Vice President of Student Affairs, said:
“For over a decade, Prevent has been used as a tool to repress the voices of Muslim students. The recommended measures will only strengthen the intimidation tactics used to silence those who seek to challenge the Government’s Islamophobic narrative and will also be used as a means to place further unnecessary scrutiny on ISocs when inviting external speakers to their events, as experienced with the FOSIS IAM Tour7.
At FOSIS, we have had numerous cases of students in Higher and Further Education whose lives have been derailed by Prevent under the pretence of serving as a safeguarding mechanism. The Home Office have shown that even they no longer believe this narrative, and have made it all but explicit that Prevent is a measure to marginalise the Muslim community and police their thoughts and lives.
In light of this, we reiterate the need to abolish Prevent and its flawed premise. We will continue to work tirelessly in supporting Muslim students and ISocs who have been targeted through Prevent, delivering Islamophobia training to student unions and continuing our anti-Prevent campaign on campus.”
If you have been affected by Prevent, reach out to our Student Affairs team at firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance.
FOSIS (est. 1963) is a national umbrella organisation aimed at supporting and representing Islamic Societies and Muslim Students in Higher and Further Education within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
- Recommendation 33