Utter disdain to appoint Prevent reviewer

30th Aug 2019

How disdainful can the British Government be towards its Muslim population? The refusal by ministers to recognise let alone talk to the MCB, a community elected umbrella body, shows nothing but utter contempt. And the latest decision to reappoint the same reviewer who approved the current controversial Prevent strategy is nothing more than a complete mockery.

‘Things often have to get worse before they get better’ is a common adage designed to make people feel better or to prepare for what may lie ahead. For almost two decades, the plight of Muslims in Britain has not improved; rather they have been more gloomy if not wretched forebodings like in many other aspects of society.

For over 15 years the Prevent programme has cast a shadow over Muslim lives as one part of the Government’s misguided Contest counter-terrorism strategy with the supposed aim of preventing the radicalisation of individuals to terrorism. It has long been suspected of being a thinly veiled mass surveillance progamme that involves not only police officers but also imposes a statutory duty on teachers, faith leaders, prisons, the probation services, doctors and local authorities.

Confirmation from leaked documents that the policy is used for spying is hardly going to make the excesses more amenable and less discreditable to the Muslim community. It only proves what a sham and devious strategy it is. Hope that the whole thrust of its misguided application will be radically reformed if not scrapped has gone as the Home Secretary for the second time appointing cross-bench peer Lord Carlile to lead another review.

Lord Carlile acted as the UK’s first Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation from 2001 to 2011 when he effectively helped to embed the ill-advised strategy. The veteran barrister, who already carried out a whitewash review of Prevent in 2011, has frequently spoken of its supposed merits. In 2016, he told Parliament’s human rights committee that the programme was being well managed in some areas but only suffered from an overall lack of resources.

Former Tory Chair, Sayeeda Warsi, described his appointment that was made without bothering to go through the normal procedures as “misguided.” “Lord Carlile is neither independent of Government thinking on this issue nor does he have the trust of the communities that have been on the receiving end of the excesses and mistakes of the Prevent policy.”

Others have expressed concerns about his apparent membership of a Home Office panel tasked with overseeing the Prevent strategy as well as his earnings from a consultancy he owns with former MI6 chief Sir John Scarlett.

The Government was already reluctantly forced into carrying out an independent review in an amendment to the legislation. Announcing Carlile’s appointment, Security Minister, Brandon Lewis, made few pretensions about any sincerity that there would be a real attempt to reform Prevent, claiming that ministers were “continually improving and evolving the programme” and that he looked forward to seeing “recommendations on how we can learn more about what works and where we need to improve.”

It should be remembered that it was Lewis who has consistently refused to hold an independent inquiry into the extent of Islamophobia within the Tory Party despite the huge amount of evidence of anti-Muslim sentiments within its ranks. Since taking up office, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has even indicated that he is going back on his pledge to finally carry out a thorough investigation by burying it within a much more generic and waffling probe.

No one is holding their breath waiting for the terms of reference to be publicised about the Prevent review but the Government can have no confidence in gaining any support from the community for its hatchet job. The Muslim News has repeatedly called, the Tories need to get their house in order. It can start by being more respectful to others, including Muslims.

 

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