Survey on UK counterterror program called into question

Survey on UK counterterror program called into question
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Updated 03 March 2020

Survey on UK counterterror program called into question

Survey on UK counterterror program called into question
  • Research finds higher-than-expected Muslim support, but methodology criticized
  • Prevent has long been controversial in Britain, with various think tanks, charities and religious groups condemning it

LONDON: A new survey that suggests British Muslims might not be as opposed to a UK counter-extremism program than originally thought has been called into question by human rights experts.

The survey, from the criminal justice think tank Crest Advisory, said its research reveals that the “narrative” of Prevent being a “toxic brand” is “fundamentally flawed.” 

Of those questioned, 55 percent of British Muslims and 68 percent of the general public were unaware of the scheme.

However, Crest Advisory said when respondents were given a “neutral explanation” of the program’s duties and powers, 80 percent of British Muslims and 85 percent of the general public offered broad support for it.

But Yasmine Ahmed, executive director of Rights Watch (UK), told Arab News: “The value of the report is questionable at best due to the structural biases inherent in the questions’ wording and the conspicuous absence of questions about the human rights harms caused. The import of the survey is even more inconsequential.”

She said: “It doesn’t require a survey for the government to know that a program that leads to the storing of children’s personal information for years at a time isn’t human rights compliant.” She added: “A genuinely independent review of Prevent is needed now more than ever, and distractions such as this one don’t detract from the very real structural flaws and human rights harms that are clearly documented and felt by impacted communities.”

Prevent has long been controversial in Britain, with various think tanks, charities and religious groups condemning it for an alleged discriminatory approach and excessive curtailing of civil liberties.

Danny Shaw, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent, said: “The finding that should cause most alarm among local authority safeguarding teams and counter-terrorism police is that most Muslims don’t know what Prevent is — major work is clearly needed to raise its profile.”

Crest Advisory’s research was funded by a charitable trust interested in policing and crime, but the organization was not revealed for security reasons.

The survey found that 67 percent of British Muslims said they would refer someone they suspected of being an extremist, which is higher than 63 percent of the wider public.

“Our findings appear to fly in the face of a number of narratives commonly applied to British Muslims by some politicians, campaign groups and commentators about extremism and efforts to counter it,” said report author and Crest Advisory Director Jon Clements. 

“British Muslims are, broadly speaking, no more ‘in denial’ about Islamist extremism and the threat it presents than the population as a whole,” he added. 

“Equally, it is evident that British Muslims appear to be just as willing to step up and report concerns about an individual at risk of being radicalized as everybody else.”


A year after Wuhan lockdown, China reports small rise in COVID-19 cases

A year after Wuhan lockdown, China reports small rise in COVID-19 cases
Updated 23 January 2021

A year after Wuhan lockdown, China reports small rise in COVID-19 cases

A year after Wuhan lockdown, China reports small rise in COVID-19 cases
  • The National Health Commission said 107 new COVID-19 cases had been identified on Saturday

SHANGHAI: China on Saturday reported a slight increase in new cases of COVID-19 as it marks the anniversary of the world’s first coronavirus lockdown, in the city of Wuhan where the disease emerged in late 2019.
The National Health Commission said 107 new COVID-19 cases had been identified on Saturday, up from 103 cases the day before.
The commission said in a statement that 90 of the new cases were local infections.
The northeastern province of Heilongjiang recorded 56 new cases and neighboring Jilin province had 13. Both Beijing and Shanghai recorded three new cases each, and the province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, recorded 15 new cases.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 99 from 119 cases a day earlier.
Beijing launched mass COVID-19 testing in some areas on Friday and Shanghai was testing all hospital staff as China faced its worst novel coronavirus outbreak since March, with families fretting over Lunar New Year reunion plans.
Also on Friday, China reported its first cluster of cases among workers in a meat processing plant in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, raising consumer concerns.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China stands at 88,911, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.
Wuhan shut down transport networks and suspended outgoing flights on Jan. 23, 2020, in an attempt to cut off transmission of the virus.
China on Friday premiered a documentary film to mark the anniversary of the lockdown, part of a broader effort to cast China’s early response to COVID-19 in a positive light after some suggestions, which authorities reject, of an initial delay.
More than 2 million people around the world have died from the novel coronavirus, according to a Reuters tally.