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.


Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

Updated 28 min 3 sec ago
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Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

  • Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken

NAIROBI: Kenya sought to reassure the public and foreign visitors on Monday after a suspected Ebola case, which turned out to be negative, was detected near the border with Uganda.

Uganda last week reported three cases of Ebola, two of them fatal, among people who had been to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an epidemic has been underway since last August.

Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said a 36-year-old woman in the western county of Kericho had fallen ill with headache, fever and vomiting, which can also be symptoms of Ebola.

Further examination found she did not have the disease, Kariuki said at a press conference staged at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“The Rapid Surveillance and Response Team has examined the patient, who is in stable condition, and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition for Ebola,” she said.

“I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola.”

The Ugandan cases were confirmed in a town that is more than 600 km from the border with Kenya.

Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken.

They included the installation of thermal cameras at entry points to detect people with high temperatures, as well as isolation units to host suspected cases. More than 250 Health Ministry workers have been deployed at entry points as part of this strategy.

The minister called on the public to be vigilant, urging anyone with Ebola-like symptoms who had traveled to affected countries to go to the nearest hospital.