Friday, October 30, 2009

UK counter terrorism aids far-right

Muted mainstream political reaction to recent Guardian and Institute for Race Relations (IRR) reports concerning allegations of "violations of privacy and professional norms of confidentiality" in connection with the UK government's Prevent (Preventing Violent Extremism) programme is revealing.

Politicians and commentators who have been falling over each other to express outrage against Nick Griffin, the leader of the far-right British National Party (BNP), who appeared on the BBC's flagship Question Time for the first time last week, have remained conspicuously silent on the important issues raised in the two reports.

Crucially the Guardian's Vikram Dodd and IRR's Arun Kundnani interviewed ordinary British Muslims in their research.

The concerns and fears expressed by these Muslims about the extent to which the Prevent programme might infringe Muslim civil liberties deserve to be taken seriously in Westminster.

However, it was not an issue deemed worthy for discussion on Question Time. Instead those British Muslim viewers already fearful of being stigmatised as a suspect community will have noted with concern how Griffin was constantly attacked by his Westminster co-panelists as a racist while his attacks on Islam and Muslims went largely unchallenged.

This is significant. Griffin has successfully lifted the BNP from the political gutter by singling out Muslims for attack.

His first publication on the topic pre-dates 9/11 and throughout the last decade he has maintained a steadfast campaign against Muslim targets.

While it is a tribute to the fairness of the overwhelming majority of British citizens that BNP's electoral successes have been as small as they have so far, it is to the shame of many in Westminster that they have provided much of the fuel for Griffin's rise.

This is the same fuel first used by Tony Blair and George Bush to propel the war on terror.

At all points Griffin agrees with Blair that the suicide bomb attacks on 9/11 and 7/7, along with those attempts successfully thwarted by British security services and police, are motivated by an evil ideology inherent to what they both call radical Islam.

Both Griffin and Blair deny Muslims any political identity based on their religion and suggest that its removal is a key part of a strategy to tackle the root causes of the significant terrorist threat in Britain.

Blair's legacy to his successor Gordon Brown was to extend this thinking into the Prevent programme. Thus the outstanding efforts of many grass roots Muslim community projects tackling al-Qaeda inspired propaganda and influence (both with and without Prevent funding) have always been at risk from Blair's diagnosis of the problem.

The extent to which this inaccurate diagnosis impacts on Prevent was revealed in Ed Husain's response to Vikram Dodd's report.

As co-director of the Prevent-funded Quilliam Foundation, Husain argues that Prevent should target Muslims he describes as Islamists whether or not they are suspected of terrorism or violent extremism.

Read more here,,,,

Source: Al Jazeera (English)

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