‘Prevent’ Anti-Terror Scheme has Failed in UK
London: Deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan told BBC Radio 5 live that the Prevent Anti-Terror Scheme was having a “negative impact”. The scheme seeks to lessen the influence of extremism, but Khan said it alienated young Muslims and pushed them towards radical groups. The government said it was supporting the vast majority of UK Muslims in combating extremism. Prevent, which is part of the government’s broader counter-terrorism strategy, aims to “stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”.
Work carried out as part of Prevent includes stopping “apologists for terrorism” coming to the UK, supporting community campaigns which oppose extremism and mentoring for individuals who are “at risk of being drawn into terrorist activity”. Harun Khan of the Muslim Council says: “The problem is the strategy.” The strategy covers “all forms” of terrorism, including far-right extremism. Khan said, Prevent had “really failed” when it came to Muslim communities, and said many young Muslims were “not interested in engaging for anything to do with Prevent”. “Most young people are seeing this as a target on them and the institutions they associate with,” he said. Harun Khan said UK Muslims must be allowed to “speak freely” about important issues. He said many felt they would be viewed by authorities as potential terrorists if they went to mosques or joined organised Muslim groups. Khan said this left some people “lost and disenfranchised,” and vulnerable to radicalization. He said the “bigger problem” was that many young Muslims were “disillusioned,” but felt they could not express their views and they needed a “safe space” where they could “speak freely without being labeled as extremists”. He said the government only wanted to engage with people whose views matched their own.
Immigration and security minister James Brokenshire said the government was supporting “the vast majority of British Muslims in condemning those who advocate violence.” “As part of our Prevent Counter-Terrorism Programme, we work with a wide range of organizations to raise awareness of the dangers of travelling to areas of conflict such as Syria and Iraq and the risk of exploitation by extremist groups,” he said.
Funding from Prevent has been given to the Muslim Council of Wales for activities including a “youth leadership” project, teaching imams to improve their English and training people to identify and deconstruct “extremist messages,” and Manchester City Council, which has set up interactive workshops to educate young people about the dangers of terrorism, and created other schemes which work with professional bodies to educate staff on warning signs of potential extremist activity. As part of Prevent, the UK also works “closely with countries where those who support terrorism and promote extremism are most active”, focusing on Pakistan, the Middle East and East Africa.