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Prevent only targets Muslims and not far-right extremists
The Coalition Government released their long-awaited strategy to counter extremism, radicalisation and in the process diminish the threat of Terrorism the country faces.
The ‘Prevent’ Strategy, a title borrowed from the previous Labour Governments efforts in this field, has been described by Political observers as simply a re-hash and recycled document that places blame on the Muslim Community for all the ills of Terrorism.
David Cameron Set the scene and tone for this report on his Visit to Germany where in a speech in Munich He said “"Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world view, including real hostility towards western democracy and liberal values".
The Prevent strategy made it clear that it will not fund Muslim Organisations that oppose British Values.
Back in March 2009, the Report ‘Contest 2′ was released where the classification of an extremist was broadened to include anyone whose views do not correspond to the ‘government’ definition of shared British values.
According to the Report, British Muslims would be considered “extremist” if they advocated non-participation in UK elections, called for the creation of a caliphate, promoted Shariah for the Muslim world and argued that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God.
Additionally, extremist views included supporting armed resistance by Palestinians against Israel as seen in the current Gaza conflict – and a failure to condemn the killing of British service personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The 190 page report, available on the Home Office Website was immediately challenged by the Muslim Community and many of the Broadsheet newspaper editorials.
Dr. Robert Lambert from the Department of Politics, University of Exeter said "This is a policy first prescribed by Michael Gove and his friends at Policy Exchange and set now to become Home Office policy.
It is also an extension of the policy that the arch Blairites, Ruth Kelly and Hazel Blears first began to implement when they enjoyed brief control at the Department for Communities and Local Government".
Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan highlighted his concerns with the proposals.
"The report has many errors. But its fundamental flaw is its explicit assumption that terrorism is actuated by a hatred of democracy. With stunning intellectual dishonesty the government refuses to tackle in the report the fact that terrorism in the UK has been driven by disgust at British foreign policy, and especially the invasion of Iraq, and the continuing occupation and civilian deaths in Afghanistan".
‘Prevent’ has also highlighted Universities as ‘hotbeds’ for extremism and even criticised the National body for Muslim University students, FOSIS. A spokesperson expressed concern at the Home Secretary's comments.
"We find it disrespectful for commentators to throw around accusations of extremism so easily – especially when not only university vice chancellors but David Willets, the Universities Minister, himself have clearly elucidated how extremism is not widespread on campus, and have questioned whether universities are the "trigger" for radicalisation".
A key part of the drive to eradicate ‘extremism’ has been the previous and current governments drive to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, a non-violent Political Party that operates in over 40 countries championing the call for a caliphate to unify Muslim Countries under a single leadership.
Questions have been raised over these proposals by both the Police and the Home office who have aired that there is no precedent for banning the organising.
Taji Mustafa from Hizb ut-Tahrir speaking on the ‘Prevent’ Strategy said "After bombing Afghanistan and Pakistan, does Mr Cameron still expect people to believe in the Blairite delusion that it is Islamic beliefs that are the cause of security threats to the UK?.
"Most serious observers have abandoned this discredited world view, which continues to be propagated by some politicians, and self-serving think tanks and academics whose funding relies on such nonsense".
Mohammed Shafiq from the Ramadhan Foundation adding to the debate which effectively single out the Muslim community said "To label all Muslims who promote and practice Sharia law as extremists is a dangerous precedent which will be strongly opposed by our community because the real reasons behind this new strategy are to score cheap political points on the back of the Muslim community".
Time and time after again the Government has tried to convince the Muslim Community that they are not in the firing line of such initiatives, yet the report suggest otherwise, clearly demanding a subscription to certain values, even if Islamic views may conflict with them.
The report has had no real debate on Far-right groups like the English Defence League (EDL) who in recent years have made overt and public appearances in blaming Islam as a cause for the many miseries which Britain faces today. A platform for such groups continues whilst Muslim organisations face continued scrutiny.