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Prevent not preventing

29th Oct 2021
Prevent not preventing

 

Tributes have been paid to Tory MP Sir David Amess, who was brutally stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery in Southend. A veteran parliamentarian of 38 years, Sir David was one of the longest-serving MPs in the House of Commons. Our deepest condolences go to his family and friends.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Sir David “simply wanted to serve the people of Essex” and that it was in “the act of serving his constituents that he was so cruelly killed.” Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, insisted that “even as a political opponent, he was a man and a politician we could all learn much from” and “we all have a duty to do so.”

House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, also said, “We must learn” from the “hideous killing” and called for “an end to hatred” against MPs.

The killing, which is being treated as a terrorist incident, follows the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a right-wing extremist just ahead of the Brexit referendum in 2016. Before then, there was a series of four MPs assassinated between 1979 and 1990 related to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Over the past 200 years, nine MPs have been assassinated.

A 25-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Sir David. Harbi Ali, a British citizen, was arrested immediately after Sir David was stabbed on October 15. He was reportedly previously referred to the Government’s discredited counter-terrorism Prevent scheme, a programme aimed at stopping radicalisation. According to the Guardian, he was even referred to the Channel programme for more intensive support, which raises grave doubts about its effectiveness.

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee reported in 2017 that there had been “fundamental failings” by the Home Office, counterterror police and Surrey County Council leading up to the attempted atrocity in Parsons Green by Ahmed Hassan despite his participation in the Channel programme. Khairi Saadallah, accused of launching a terror attack in Reading in 2020, was also flagged to the Prevent scheme but was not found to have a fixed ideology.

Sudesh Amman, who stabbed two people before being shot dead in the London district of Streatham in 2020, had just been released from prison after serving a sentence for terror offences.

Despite its failures, Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said that Prevent would be a vital part of the Government’s response to the attack. “Prevent is going through an independent review right now. It’s timely to do that, we have to learn, we obviously constantly have to learn, not just from incidents that have taken place but how we can strengthen our programmes,” she said. “We want to ensure that it is fit for purpose, robust, doing the right thing.”

What was not mentioned was that the review, which was forced upon the Government at the beginning of 2019, is long overdue after being embroiled in controversy and delays. Its latest deadline at the end of September was also missed. The appointment of the former Charity Commission Chair, William Shawcross, to lead it also sparked a boycott by campaign groups earlier this year because of his Islamophobic views.

As the director of the neoconservative think-tank The Henry Jackson Society, he was quoted as saying in 2012 that “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest and most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations.”

Whatever Prevent is doing, it is not preventing. It has long been alienating Muslims by targeting the community, even making it a legal requirement for public institutions, including schools, the NHS and councils to report suspected extremists. It is one of the major planks of the misguided Contest counter-terrorism and has never been fit-for-purpose.

The review has already been branded superficial as it excludes all past decisions from its scope. If anything, Sir David’s tragic death only proves it isn’t working and should be scrapped.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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