British Muslims ‘genuinely fear’ persecution under UK government’s Prevent policy: Report

British Muslims are living in “genuine fear” of persecution under the UK government’s controversial counter-extremism policy Prevent, a recent report has revealed. (AFP)
Updated 30 July 2018
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British Muslims ‘genuinely fear’ persecution under UK government’s Prevent policy: Report

  • Research carried out in the northern city of Manchester, after last year’s bombing at an Ariana Grande concert discovered a 'lack of communication' with Muslim communities
  • The commission also called for the Home Office to make detailed statistics on Prevent’s work available to authorities

LONDON: British Muslims are living in “genuine fear” of persecution under the UK government’s controversial counter-extremism policy Prevent, a recent report has revealed.
Research carried out in the northern city of Manchester, after last year’s bombing at an Ariana Grande concert, found that while the policy is successful in tackling many forms of radicalization, a lack of communication with Muslim communities had caused a “dangerous, perpeutuating cycle of fear” and made British Muslims unwilling to come forward to cooperate.
An eight person committee headed by Labour councillor for Bury Rishi Shori compiled the report, which went on to say: “The lack of information is exploited by those with an anti-Prevent or anti-Islam agenda who maliciously miscommunicate the aims of Prevent or true nature of the issue.
“This has perpetuated the problem, leading to the creation of suspect communities and fear of persecution among Muslim communities.”
The commission went on to warn that while the threat of further Daesh-inspired attacks and growing Islamophobia existed, the risk of terrorists and the far-right extremist groups feeding off each would only grow in the current climate.
The commission also called for the Home Office to make detailed statistics on Prevent’s work available to Manchester authoirities, as well as those in other cities, to help dispel "myths and challenge scaremongering."
Furthermore, the report said the recent drive by the UK government to instil “British values” and a “common identity” was not working, and that there was no single issue that led to radicalization.
It added that poverty, unemployment, racial inequality and a lack of social cohesion significantly raised the potential for young, vulnerable members of society to be drawn toward groups where terrorist activity was actively discussed.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who ordered the report, said in response to the report: “If the perception of the Prevent strategy is different from the reality, then that can be exploited by those seeking to undermine any form of counter-terrorism strategy.
“Therefore we accept the need, as identified in the report, to provide more information about Prevent. Any counter-terrorism strategy needs to be localized, have community buy-in and be seen to be fair to all communities rather than appearing to target one.”
In 2016, the UK’s terror law watchdog said Muslim communities saw Prevent as a “spying program” and made recommendations for it to be changed.
The report came as a result of continued warnings by watchdogs about negative public perceptions of Prevent.


Top Indian court says it will not probe French fighter jet deal

Updated 14 December 2018
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Top Indian court says it will not probe French fighter jet deal

  • Congress party accused Narendra Modi’s administration of graft following a deal to buy 36 Rafale planes and the decision to pick Reliance Defense as a domestic partner
  • India’s Supreme Court ruled there was no evidence of commercial favoritism

DELHI: India’s Supreme Court said Friday it would not probe the government’s multi-billion dollar decision to buy French fighter jets.
The opposition Congress party accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration of graft following a deal to buy 36 Rafale planes and the decision to pick Reliance Defense, owned by billionaire Anil Ambani, as a domestic partner.
Reliance has no aeronautical expertise and was chosen ahead of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which does, triggering allegations of a scam.
But the court said there was no evidence of commercial favoritism.
“Having heard the matter in detail, we find no reason for any intervention by this court on the sensitive issue. Perception of individuals cannot be the basis of fishing and roving enquiry by this court, especially in such matters,” the 32-page verdict said.
“We can’t compel the government to purchase 126 aircraft and it’s not proper for the court to examine each aspect of this case. It isn’t a job of the court to compare pricing details. The country cannot afford to be unprepared or underprepared in a situation where our adversaries are stated to have acquired not only fourth generation, but even fifth generation aircrafts, of which we have none,” the court added.
Indian defense procurement rules state that a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean it off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, which makes the Rafale jets, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip it was Reliance Defense that got the contract.
“In our opinion, the Supreme Court judgment is totally wrong. The campaign will certainly not drop and we will decide if we will file a review petition,” one of the main petitioners Prashant Bhushan said after the verdict.
“This isn’t the first time when the Apex court has failed us in ordering a probe in cases of high-level corruption,” he told reporters.
Congress said the Supreme Court was not the forum to rule on such a sensitive defense contract.
“The verdict of the Supreme Court is a validation of what the Congress party has stated months ago. Only forum is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) which can probe the entire corruption in Rafale deal,” said the party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala.
Ambani denied there had been a scam, saying the allegations were politically motivated, while the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded an apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
“Truth always triumphs. Court’s judgment on the Rafale deal exposes the campaign of misinformation spearheaded by Congress president for political gains,” president of the BJP Amit Shah said.
Dr. Satish Mishra, from the Observer Research Foundation think-tank, said that the court verdict did not mean that the Rafale deal was beyond reproach.
“It only means that the court does not have enough evidence to order a probe into the deal,” he told Arab News. “If the government does not have anything to hide then it should order an independent inquiry or set up a joint parliamentary team to clear the doubts raised by the opposition, otherwise the charges will remain in the public domain. The BJP is in a defensive mode after the defeat in the regional elections. Allegations of corruptions have sullied the image of Modi, the only asset that the party has. I don’t think the verdict in any way vindicates the PM or the BJP.”