Preventing Dissent

In the wake of the killing of Lee Rigby, a soldier in the British army who served in Afghanistan, the UK government established a task force in order to set out proposals for the way they would tackle ‘extremism’ within Muslim communities. As a late addition to this process, the government included references to far-right extremism in light of the murder of Birmingham resident, Mohammed Saleem, and due to a series of attacks against mosques in the West Midlands.

Under the original CONTEST strategy, the UK government sought to set in motion a programme to prevent violent extremism (PVE) under its PREVENT strategy. However, since the tenure of former Prime Minister Tony Blair until this government, the move in policy has been very much geared towards preventing any forms of extremism – this forcing the strategy to take a far more ideological approach to Muslim belief and practice. PREVENT has become the first all-encompassing social policy targeting almost every aspect of Muslim life.

As a strategy, Prevent has been seen as a contentious policy, as it undermines the way that communities behave by placing religious, cultural and political behaviour within risk assessments. By doing so, potential future suspects are created where debate, discussion and openness may find their own remedy.