A coalition of Muslim groups have announced they will boycott the Prevent Review in response to the appointment of William Shawcross as reviewer.

More than 450 Muslim civil society organisations – including 350 mosques and mosque imams – and over 90 leading figures have signed a statement pledging to boycott the Prevent review. 

The statement says: “It is increasingly obvious that Prevent promotes many unacceptable harms – even to those who have engaged with Prevent convinced they are preventing harm.

"These harms include profiling and targeting Muslim children (even as young as four), making the Muslim community ‘a suspect community’, demonising aspects of Islam, and silencing legitimate speech.”

The coalition said it will continue to campaign against the Shawcross Review, and the 'harms of the Prevent policy'.  They say they 'will support all steps to set up an independent review process, that centres those most harmed by Prevent, has legitimacy from the communities most affected, and is aided by credible expertise and supported with robust evidence'.

Dr Layla Aitlhadj, lead Coalition spokesperson and Director of the support group PreventWatch, said: “Our coalition of hundreds of Muslim civil society organisations from across the country is boycotting this review of Prevent because we believe it will not address the significant harms the policy has caused. 

"The review lacks credibility, its current reviewer, William Shawcross, is seen as partisan, and the government has no intention of taking our concerns seriously. In short, this government cannot be trusted to make a truly independent and comprehensive assessment of Prevent.

Professor Nasar Meer, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh, said: “Prevent is a bad policy that has only worsened with time.  An independent review of its attack on the freedom of speech, curtailment of fundamental liberties and criminalisation of communities, is long overdue.  Sadly, the Shawcross Review promises no such thing.”

Dr Fatima Rajina, Stephen Lawrence Centre, De Montfort University, said: “The presence of Prevent in smaller organisations within local communities that provide essential services such as ESOL classes, sewing classes, and putting on other classes to accommodate the needs of, mostly, Muslim women is one that illustrates its perniciousness.  

"The Prevent strategy ensures these organisations end up relying on its pot of funding because other ways of accessing funds are being curtailed.  In this way, Prevent is expanding its tentacles into community spaces that ought to remain safe for Muslims but, yet again, it is there to surveil and monitor.”

Dr Tarek Younis, Lecturer in Psychology at Middlesex University, said: “Shawcross’ appointment is a stark reminder how tangential Muslim distress is to the government, when the cause of this distress is their very policies.  

"We know that the silencing caused by Prevent is not simply the absence of words, but a very real experience of anxiety.  We know families experience trauma when caught erroneously in the security web.  

"We know that fear of appearing ‘suspect’ begs the question of tacit coercion when offered a Channel intervention.  We need transparency and accountability for the distress caused by Prevent referrals, viewed from the prism of human rights and racialised abuse.”