The following is a summarised extract from the third chapter of The Battle for British Islam by Sara Khan with Tony McMahon. Prevent plays a central role in the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy and yet it has been systematically undermined by Salafi-Islamist extremists. Why?
There has been a campaign to misinform British Muslims and the wider public about Prevent, part of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy. This comes at a time when the security threat to the UK from ISIS and al-Qa’ida remains at ‘severe’. Prevent has become an ideological battleground for Britain’s Salafi-Islamists, determined to render the brand toxic.
At the same time, Salafi-Islamists offer no alternative to Prevent. Instead, they spread entirely fictitious stories about how Prevent operates, present the policy incorrectly as an attack on all Muslims and use the strategy to drive a wedge between Muslims and British society. Prevent is far from perfect but those of us who oppose terrorism want a strategy that safeguards vulnerable individuals.
CAGE is a group in the Salafi-Islamist convergence that has been at the forefront of attacking Prevent. It entirely misrepresents its workings and objectives. CAGE claims Prevent is fostering a state-sponsored Islam, spying on Muslims and conducting extra-judicial tribunals. These unfounded assertions are designed to foster fear and suspicion among British Muslims towards Prevent.
Most worrying, the arguments advanced against Prevent by Salafi-Islamists are becoming common currency in the student movement and education trade unions. The leadership of the National Union of Students has campaigned alongside CAGE against Prevent. They seem entirely oblivious to the wider aims of the Salafi-Islamist convergence and CAGEs shocking comments about convicted terrorists, portraying them as victims of the British state.
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