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Surveillance of British Muslims 'from cradle to grave'

Surveillance of British Muslims 'from cradle to grave'

Categories: Latest News

Thursday February 27 2014

Al Jazeera carries a feature article on the ever draconian tools used to monitor Muslim communities and intimidate innocent individuals under counter-terrorism measures.

Author Simon Hooper uses examples of Muslims who have been visited by Special Branch officers, whose homes have been raided, personal belongings confiscated, who have been harassed by security officials into spying on Muslims, and whose travel abroad has been routinely disrupted, even on travel to perform Hajj, on account of the Schedule 7 powers which grant officers the right to detain and question at ports and airports without reasonable suspicion.

The article illustrates the ever encroaching and arbitrary infringement of Muslim civil liberties under the Government’s counter terrorism strand, Prevent.

The Prevent policy, which was reviewed and reformed by the Coalition Government in 2011, was widely discredited for its wasteful nature and for allegations of spying, personal data collection and its contribution to the widespread perception of as a ‘suspect community’. The Coalition’s review of the policy has not, however, veered far from its predecessor and continues to demonstrate severe deficiencies in its respect of Muslim civil liberties and in the transparency and accountability of officials working on Prevent administered programmes.

The recent Taskforce on Tackling Radicalisation report reinforces fears of the ‘cradle to grave surveillance’ of Muslim communities with its introduction of a statutory requirement on local authorities, universities, schools, prisons and other authorities to implement the programme.

Cage, whose Schedule 7 Stories project, illustrates cases of rights abuse experienced by Muslim travellers, said in its review of the Taskforce report and the policies proposed therein:

“It is a policy to silence Muslims and pacify/de-politicise their faith. In short, it criminalises political dissent or alternative political thought.”

The engendering of political apathy among Muslim communities through the financial support of apolitical groups and the active promotion of an ideologically-driven interpretation of ‘Islamism’, the mainstay of the previous Prevent programme, looks to be repeated in the new proposals recently set forth, according to Cage.

Cage, in its analysis of the Taskforce report includes details of the operation of the controversial ‘Channel programme’ including the case of “a nine-year-old boy alleged to have shown signs of extremism who was referred to authorities for “deprogramming”. Police figures show a steady increase in referrals among young people, with 748 referred for assessment in 2012-2013, compared with 580 a year earlier and more than 2,600 in total since 2006.”

Jahangir Mohammad, co-author of the Cage report told Al Jazeera

“There has been nothing like the Prevent policy since the McCarthy era, but Prevent goes a lot further; it goes into every aspect of Muslim life.

“Prevent has created a climate of fear and alienation in the Muslim community. People feel they can’t challenge this stuff and they don’t have any rights.”

Shakur Rahman, an imam at the Redbridge Islamic Centre in east London, also spoke to Al Jazeera saying “We know, as every imam knows, that if you say something which they do not like you could be raided that night. They are creating that fear so that we are afraid to speak about fundamental issues that pertain to our community. If the whole strategy of Prevent is to minimise problems in the community then it is doing the exact opposite.”


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