07 Jun 2011
The Muslim Council of Britain today voiced its concern at the Government’s latest Prevent counter-terrorism review. There is not much new between the current strategy and the one pursued by the previous government which was proved to be counterproductive after another detailed review last year.
British Muslims are as much opposed to the scourge of terrorism as anyone else, yet the review reaffirms the notion that Muslims are as much part of the problem as it is the solution. Criticising FOSIS, a major student umbrella organisation which has worked actively with civil society in combating radicalisation, is most disturbing.
The government has announced that it will no longer support or fund groups that it deems as extremist. It is a continuation of a policy that relies on dispensing government patronage. That is the government’s prerogative. Yet, in a place where the British Muslim community is incredibly diverse in practise and tradition, the government — like its predecessor — engages in state-sponsored sectarianism by setting arbitrary measures on who is, and who isn’t an extremist.
Above all, as the government sets itself up as the purveyor of extremism, we ask the government by what practicable measure does it identify extremism? We are faced with a situation where a Muslim will be deemed extremist if defined so by neoconservative think-tanks. In this attempt to bring clarity to the discussion, it would appear that the latest strategy muddies the water and we will be faced with arbitrary measures that stigmatises the community. The Muslim community which for some years has been seen through the prism of security is astonished by the Government’s lost opportunity to redress the imbalance created by the previous Government in dealing with Muslims.
Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “At a time when Muslims in the Middle East resoundingly endorse the universal values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, is there any reason to believe that British Muslims are any different? The latest Prevent strategy seems to think so. For Muslims and public policy, security has become the only consideration on the agenda. It contains the implicit assumption that Muslims are less able to function in an open democracy than other people, more susceptible to totalitarian impulses and that they are more open to be incited to violence. It sends a very negative message to the community and is likely to increase Islamophobia.”
He added: “We agree that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money – our money – has been wasted in the Prevent strategy, and we welcome the government’s resolve to refocus resources. But if the strategy is anything to go by, diverting money away from one bad idea to another — won’t necessarily accrue the results we all crave for: the eradication of terrorism”.[ENDS]