Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Questioning the UK Government's "Prevent Strategy"

Rizwan Sabir comments on the Guardian (19 October 2009) on the government's controversial "Prevent Strategy" which aims to work with the Muslim community to prevent terrorism.

He argues that such policies have to take care not to link terrorism with ordinary mainstream islam:

"Firstly, the government still thinks that a correlation exists between acts of indiscriminate killing and the religion of Islam, even though it's a well-known fact that indiscriminate killing is not condoned by Islam, but rather justified through a flawed, restrictive and manipulated understanding of Islam, unless you're Geert Wilders. Why else would it be trying to collate intelligence on people's religious views? So it can fund the construction of more mosques?

Secondly, the government is now thinking that the reason why some individuals may carry out violence is not because of overzealous policing, disproportionate counterterrorism measures and a foreign policy that has led to thousands of deaths, including British service personnel, but is somehow caused by the mental condition of British Muslims.

Thirdly, the government thinks that collecting information on the sex lives of British Muslims could indicate a potential link between acts of violence and British Muslims. Essentially this means that British Muslims who "aren't getting any" are more vulnerable to radicalisation.

And fourthly, the government is playing a very sinister and dangerous game of guilt by association. It is presuming that if you are in contact with certain individuals, you have the potential to become a terrorist or have to the potential to adopt a violent methodology for change. Does this mean that every Muslim in touch with suspected terrorists or individuals convicted on terrorism charges should all be monitored, snooped upon and intercepted? Maybe they should. Maybe then the government will actually be able to justify its £3.5bn yearly counterterrorism budget.

However, what this will not do is build bridges between the government, the police services and the Muslim community, where distrust, anxiety and fear are rife. To build bridges, the British government must rethink the prejudiced manner with which it views young Muslims, their attitudes towards world events and their desire for a more just and peaceful world. Just because they view Israel as an occupying power or believe that the west has a hypocritical foreign policy, does not mean that they are terrorists or will take up jihad."

You can read the whole article here.

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