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Originally published in the Spectator.
Earlier this week the Times had a leader column entitled ‘Protect Prevent’. As a defence of the government’s counter-extremism strategy it was all well and good, but it missed a very crucial point. It said:
‘The success of Prevent has been undermined, however, by a failure of public relations. The government failed to cast it as an essential part of child protection, allowing the charge of “spying” to gain credence. Similar policies designed to prevent sexual abuse or physical violence against children would never be open to that charge.’
But this charge of ‘spying’ did not simply ‘gain credence’. Nor were other charges against the Prevent strategy mere ‘public relations’ failures. Such charges only gained traction because from the institution of the strategy there was a concerted and near-unanimous push by almost every organised Muslim group in the UK as well as most self-appointed and elected community representatives to delegitimise Prevent. That isn’t because they don’t like a particular detail of the strategy. It is because they clearly do not want any strategy in this area. That is either because it attempts to deal with a problem they do not see as being a problem or because for reasons of communal pride they wish to brush the issue under the carpet.
Read the full article here.