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UK counter-extremism agenda: ‘Safeguarding’ as routine punishment and collective self-policing
The Home Office programme ‘Prevent Violent Extremism’ has had mounting criticism, especially in the run-up to becoming statutory last year. Nevertheless its measures are being expanded, supposedly to safeguard vulnerable individuals. Why? What drives the agenda? What implications for a counter-strategy? These questions are addressed by Les Levidow in this article, based on his talk at the IHRC's Islamophobia conference held on 10th December.
The Home Office programme ‘Prevent Violent Extremism’ has had mounting criticism and overt opposition, especially in the run-up to becoming statutory last year (NUS, NUT, UCU, all 2015). In people’s experience, the key term ‘extremist’ has been triggered by a wide, racist range of indicators. Frequently targeted are Muslims who criticise UK foreign policy (Kundnani, 2009; Mohammed and Siddiqui, 2014), especially Israel (e.g. Hooper, 2015, Tickle, 2014; OSJI, 2016: 86-89).
The trigger has been widened to potentially any protest, thus highlighting the extremist, anti-democratic role of ‘prevent’ measures. A local authority has unintentionally parodied the programme as follows: ‘The Counter Terrorism Local Profile for York and North Yorkshire highlights the key risks to York as evidence of activity relating to Syria, presence of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), anti-Israeli/pro-Palestinian activity, hunt saboteurs, animal rights, anti-fracking and extreme right wing activity’ (BBC, 2016). As it further explained, ‘since 2010, local authorities monitor any activities where there is potential for community tension’. The ‘potential’ readily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy through preventive measures.
Read the full article here.