The Independent Review of Prevent is reportedly due for imminent release. Since its announcement four years ago, the Review process has been surrounded by controversy. What was seen as a potential opportunity for the perspectives of Muslim communities to be heard is now understood to have been missed.
Initially, many Muslim community organisations were cautiously optimistic about the Review. However, as a result of several developments during the process, many lost trust in the process and ultimately decided not to participate. This means that there are a range of perspectives which may be missing from the report.
Some key insights shared with us include:
- Muslim community representatives with whom we work recognise that there is a threat of terrorism which must be addressed and want to play a role in doing so. However, they remain frustrated and deeply concerned about the impact of Prevent on Muslim communities and wider British society. This includes the impact of Prevent on young people, who are understood to be especially affected by the programme. This is primarily a result of the application of Prevent in educational settings which can limit the perceived ability of young Muslims to express and share their beliefs.
- The Prevent strategy is predicated on engagement with grassroots communities. However, negative perceptions about the programme are now so extensive that many organisations and individuals distance themselves from the programme, thereby undermining this aim.
- Community representatives seek to engage in inclusive dialogue with relevant decisionmakers to develop a meaningful partnership approach to address the issues the Prevent programme was intended for.
Director of Forward Thinking, Oliver McTernan, commented that “Hopefully the pre-release reports in the media are not accurate, as if they are the review will prove to be a missed opportunity to reset the relationship between a large number of our fellow British Muslim communities and their government. The Prevent policy has created a gap of trust and has undermined for many young Muslims in particular a sense of belonging in their own country”.