Politicians are not infallible. No one would claim they were. Mistakes are made like with everyone else. But few have been as damaging as when the Labour Government invented its ill-conceived Prevent programme. And it became even worse when Prime Minister, David Cameron, put it on a statutory basis.
A new study published last month examined 17 cases in which individuals had apparently fallen foul of the supposed counter-extremism strategy in health and education. One of the victims was a dinner lady in Lancashire whose employers attempted to dismiss her by claiming she supported Daesh.
As reported on page three, the wrong-headed Prevent strategy allowed the head teacher to circumvent normal disciplinary procedures when trying to get rid of her after the woman complained about other kitchen staff. A similar case in the study by the Open Society Justice Initiative involved a nurse from Birmingham who was called in by a safeguarding officer due to allegations made about her by colleagues.
There are many other cases involving the abuse of Prevent which was only put on a statutory footing as part of the recommendations of the discredited Prime Minister’s Extremism Taskforce. Now all trust has been eroded as Muslims seem to be seen only through the prism of extremism and terrorism. The Justice Initiative is calling on the Government to commission a public inquiry into the Prevent programme, publish whatever scientific data it possesses relating to extremism risk assessments and halt the targeting of non-violent extremism.
A separate case reported by the Sunday Times this month concerned a seven year old Muslim boy who was reduced to tears when two police cars were sent to his home after teachers mistook a piece of brass that he had taken to school for a bullet. His mother had to battle with the officers, refusing to let them interview her son. She accused the school of “racial profiling” and said they would have reacted differently if he had been a “white kid”.
As The Muslim News has repeatedly warned, the very premise of Prevent, like the Government’s whole counter terrorism policy, is based on a myth. There is no religious basis for the current phenomenon. This thinking only feeds into the propaganda of such groups as al-Qa’ida and Daesh. As reported this month, even the FBI has apparently found that American military interventions are the main driving force behind terrorism.