Far-right leader’s referral is symbolic of a recognition of the seriousness of far-right extremism
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday April 17 2018
With the rise of the far right in the UK and across Europe, the substantial problem and threat of far right extremism is starting to be finally recognised and addressed by the British Government.
The Daily Star reports that the deputy leader of Britain First, Ms Jayda Fransen, has been referred to the Government’s counter-extremism strategy PREVENT.
Within an emailed leaked to the ABF Facebook page, what seems to be a Britain First supporter details the issue and Ms Fransen’s apparent “fearless” stance against taking part in PREVENT.
PREVENT is one strand of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy called CONTEST and “aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”. Individuals referred to PREVENT are advanced to the CHANNEL programme in which plans are developed to “provide support to individuals who are at risk of being drawn into terrorism”.
The email states: “I have some very disturbing news for you. In their latest assault on our movement the establishment is trying to force our fearless leader Jayda Fransen to take part in their Prevent strategy…she must engage with an agent from Prevent due to visit her prison soon or she will face severe consequences”.
The email added: “It is ridiculous that in a country where 23,000 known Jihadists are living, 400 of which have returned from Syria, and the government’s answer to the mayhem: silence conferences Christian patriots who speak out”.
The email then speaks about Ms Fransen’s intention to refuse engagement with the counter-extremism strategy. It states: “True to her principled and uncompromising form Jayda has said she will be refusing to engage with Prevent…She is willing to face the consequences whatever they may be for ignoring demands to engage with them”.
The email ends appealing the reader to donate in support of Britain First activities.
While MEND stands firm in its position that the PREVENT strategy itself is currently unfit for purpose and in need of immediate independent review, Ms Fransen’s referral is important for a wider reason. It highlights the dangers posed by the far right and the need to highlight the need for wider public acknowledgement and education of far-right extremism and the dangers it poses.
Quite often, ultra-nationalist movements are seen as a public order concern and not therefore seen as a security threat because they are not seen to be targeting the state as such. However, far right extremism has dire consequences to safety of citizens. Indeed, the horrific murder of Jo Cox, the radicalisation of the Finsbury Park terrorist, and Anders Brevik all are reminders of how significant the threat of far right extremism is.
However, the problem does not get as much media attention as it would if perpetrated by a member of the BME community. A recent survey in the US revealed that a Muslim terrorist receives 4.5x more media attention than a non-Muslim one.
We see the referral of Fransen symbolic of what we hope is a continual shift from far right extremism being seen as a public order issue to a criminal issue, receiving the seriousness it deserves.
The most recent data from the PREVENT duty highlights the threat of far-right. The number of referrals, which have been followed up by CHANNEL support, being made on the basis of far-right concerns having increased by more than 25% in recent times (from 2015/16 to 2016/17).
The PREVENT duty has been previously criticised for being Islamophobic because it encourages the reporting of British Muslims on spurious grounds leading to a disproportionate number of referrals to have been subsequently found not to have required referral at all. Indeed, a recent report by Warwick University found that there were a number of cases where individuals had been referred with weak evidence and primarily due to them prescribing to Islamic or Middle Eastern culture. In one case, a man was referred because he was planning a trip to the holy city of Mecca as part of the Hajj pilgrimage; and in another case, a child was referred because he was watching an Arabic news channel.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has previously passed a motion rejecting the PREVENT duty because it was having a detrimental impact on Muslim students. The strategy has also been previously criticised by more than 140 experts, including Professor Noam Chomsky, and bodies such as The Royal College of Psychiatrists, the National Union of Students and the Muslim Council of Britain