Prevent scheme ‘fosters fear and censorship at universities’

Aug 28, 2017 by

Just Yorkshire’s report, citing interviews with Muslim students and academics, urges closure of anti-radicalisation programme

The government’s anti-radicalisation scheme, Prevent, is instilling “fear, suspicion and censorship” on university campuses, an advocacy group has warned.

In a report based on interviews with 36 Muslim students, academics and professionals, Just Yorkshire said the scheme had fostered a “policing culture” in higher education and argued that it should be closed down immediately.

It concludes: “A wide spectrum of our respondents articulated concerns in relation to surveillance, censorship and the resultant isolation felt by many.”

Prevent, a voluntary programme, aims to divert people from terrorism before they offend. Public bodies such as schools and universities have a duty to report those they suspect are at risk of being radicalised.

Just Yorkshire described the scheme, which police and ministers are considering making compulsory, as being “built upon a foundation of Islamophobia and racism” and said it was ineffective and counterproductive.

The report said there was “an abundant body of evidence” that Prevent officers had disrupted or closed down events about Islamophobia or terrorism that had been organised by academics and campaigners.

A National Union of Students activist told researchers that students felt “spied upon” when a Prevent officer demanded a list of names associated with the university’s Islamic society.

Dr Waqas Tufail, the report’s co-author and a senior lecturer in social sciences at Leeds Beckett University, said fellow academics – both Muslim and non-Muslim – were resorting to self-censorship when discussing topics around Islam.

Source: Prevent scheme ‘fosters fear and censorship at universities’ | UK news | The Guardian

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