‘You worry they could take your kids’: is the Prevent strategy in schools demonising Muslim children?

Sep 24, 2015 by

madrasa students

Teachers now have a statutory duty to spot signs of ‘non-violent extremism’, with children as young as three being referred for anti-radicalisation. Does the policy safeguard vulnerable pupils – or discriminate against Muslims?

Homa Khaleeli – In a school music room in Bristol, 20 or so teachers are grouped around communal tables, watching a DVD. “If I hadn’t intervened,” the man on the screen intones, as ominous background music swells, “this might have ended very differently.”

The training video portrays a teacher talking to the camera about a disquieting essay one of his students turned in. He explains how, after speaking to the pupil, he realised she was “struggling to fit in and not sure, culturally, where she belonged … I am not suggesting she was going to support terrorism, but the opportunity was there if someone wanted to push her down that path.”

When the clip is over, a woman in a floral dress and blazer steps forward and addresses the group. “We are not asking you to spy,” she explains calmly. “But to look out for troubling behaviour.”

The speaker is Kalsoom Bashir, co-director of Inspire, an organisation working to counter terrorism and address inequalities facing Muslim women in the UK. Bashir is delivering an hour-long teacher training session on Prevent, part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy. Rather than focus on predicting attacks or prosecuting offenders, the Preventing Violent Extremism strand (to give it its full name) aims to stop people supporting or becoming involved in terrorism in the first place. In other words, it’s about winning the battle for hearts and minds.

Source: ‘You worry they could take your kids’: is the Prevent strategy in schools demonising Muslim children? | UK news | The Guardian

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