MCB Welcomes the Refocusing of our Collective Responsibility in the Pursuit to Prevent Terrorism

11 Aug 2009

Singling out one community in the fight against terrorism helps no one but extremists

The Muslim Council of Britain today welcomed today the reported comments of Cohesion Minister Shahid Malik who announced a rethink into the Government’s Prevent programme and the wider approach to tackling extremism in Britain. The Minister announced a policy that would not single out any one community and would cover extremism emanating from all quarters.

A reassessment of the Prevent agenda is long overdue. There is scant evidence that the policy is successful. In this respect, the MCB largely welcomes the findings of the New Local Government Network (NLGN), whose new report suggests that the Prevent scheme to help local councils to tackle violent extremism at a local level ‘risks alienating some local communities and particularly Muslim communities.’

Supporting the announcement, MCB Secretary General Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari said: `We recognise the challenge that violent extremism poses to all of us, and we welcome the overdue acknowledgement that we need a judicious and collective response to the problem. Our message – ever since 9/11 – has been unequivocal and focused – to call on all members of society to eschew criminality and participate positively in society. It is the job of the professionals – the Police and intelligence agencies – to uncover criminality and ill-intent. In so doing we believe that everyone should help in efforts to prevent injustice being perpetrated. The rise of the Far Right, and the violence that has come with it means that we must redouble our efforts, and reach across the divide to foster a Britain at ease with itself.”

He added “In recent years, we have endured a policy that has been at the mercy of a handful of cynical ideologues that have appeared out of nowhere, but are now the benefactors of a massive stimulus package to the ‘prevent economy’. They have sought to portray British Muslims as a policy problem through the narrow focus of security and demanded that only those who sign up to their own undefined set of values be considered part of British society. The effect is that millions of pounds and thousands of man-hours are being wasted on a PR exercise that aims to make some look more attractive to anti-Muslim bigots.’

`If Muslims, as individuals and groups are not allowed to take part in the life of this nation without first signing an anti-extremism waiver as defined by dogmatic and self-appointed group of ideologues, they may be forgiven for being sceptical of the message they hear from such ill-conceived initiatives.’