Urban Echo News 

To Prevent or to Spy?

by Zaf Shah
by Zaf Shah
Did you know that the North East Counter Terrorism Unit is a state spying arm of the MI5 and other security agencies, and regularly spies on Muslim communities? Were you aware that if a school has concerns of extremism, then the child would automatically be referred to Prevent, and that schools and universities are conspiring with MI5 and Special Branch?

You only have to look at your own Facebook posts and other social media platforms to know that outlandish claims such as the one posited are not grounded in any facts, and do more harm to our communities than good. There is no denying that Governments Prevent strategy has been very effective at disrupting terrorist activity. According to Neil Basu, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police and new senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, the Police have secured 294 convictions in the fight against terrorism, and have foiled 10 terror attacks in the past two years. To secure on average 12 convictions every month in the past two years and foil 10-terror attacks, are by any standards, very good results. We know all too well from recent events in Westminster and at the Champs-Elysees in Paris what can happen if a person with murderous intentions slips through the net. Can you imagine the backlash if one of those arrested and convicted had succeeded in carrying out a terrorist act? It is more often than not, that the local Police who are ‘hung out to dry’. One needs to bear in mind that the Police Officers that serve in these roles are ordinary members of our community and to suggest, as part of that role they (NECTU) are colluding with the state is a bonkers conspiracy theory.

images1SDPE7O8However, many statutory organisations including the Police will be the first to admit that it (Prevent) has fallen short in enabling the participation and the empowerment of all communities, in delivering the main objectives of Prevent. Questionably, Prevent and its message of uniting against terrorism and standing shoulder to shoulder to address the threat of extremism has been ineffective in that, there is still a deep and unjustified suspicion of Prevent. The fact that elected officials and representatives of student bodies, both at schools and Universities feed into the narrative of Prevent being a state-spying tool and ‘toxic’, is deeply problematic, and serves no meaningful purpose. The inadvertent effect of this credulous narrative is infusing the minds of our young people. It must be challenged from the bottom up or it will continue to create untested reservations.

To paraphrase, the Hanlon’s Razor theory refers to the principle that we should not ascribe to malevolence what can be explained through stupidity. It is not, that humans do not get together and plot things. They do – but they are usually quite bad at it and plots leak out (sic). Britain and the U.S are the most powerful governments in the world, and using the most powerful technology, could not prevent the Edward Snowden leaks.

Do people really think that they could cover up their Prevent spying operations?

I have grown sick of Prevent being referred to as ‘Toxic’ and it needs to stop. If we are to prevent people from being drawn into extremism and ensure that they are given the appropriate advice and tools, we need to come together. That includes education, justice, faith, charities, internet service providers (ISP’s) and health. In West Yorkshire, and in particular Bradford, we have a very proud tradition of partnership working across all sectors and we must continue along that trajectory.

Being a sceptic may be the sign of a healthy and independent mind-set, but conspiracy theories, myths and misconceptions not grounded in any facts or evidence is a virus that feeds off insecurity and bitterness. Can we call time-out please?

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