Britain’s Muslims will start a new counter-terrorism initiative under the country’s biggest Muslim umbrella organization, according to a conference in North London on Saturday.
The plans for the new initiative by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was one of the key issues covered in the first “Our Mosques Our Future” conference.
The new initiative by the council will be based on conversation with Muslim communities across the country and will be launched in the Spring, according to the MCB Secretary General Harun Khan.
Khan said their new initiative would be a nationwide listening exercise.
“This year, we’ve launched a project, it’s a national listening exercise and we will be holding in 10 different cities across the U.K.
“We’ll be holding events listening to communities about the impact of the government’s counter-terrorism legislation, including the Prevent…the impact it’s having on our communities, but also taking feedback from them on what is actually working.”
Prevent is a government strategy which lays out additional responsibilities for educators in U.K. schools to report any suspected extremist activities. It says it “aims to stop people [from] becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”. It has been under constant criticism by British Muslims who claim that it does not work and in most of the cases, people with no extremism links are questioned by authorities.
Khan said they “have a duty as members of the society to keep our country safe as well as the security services; they have to keep us safe, but the way the policies are set out at the moment, it’s not been effective and we’re hearing a lot of that.”
“We’ll be holding these events and by early 2019 we will then launch our report based on those findings. What we are looking for really is a community informed and evidence based strategy where its bottom-up, whereas up until now that’s strategy has been all top-down, and especially the Prevent itself is not evidence based and this has been going on for many years now, so we’ve embarked on this project to really inform the debate from a community perspective on where it should be going.”
Asif Hussain, one of the key members for the MCB in the new initiative said that the new initiative would not be replacing the government’s Prevent strategy “but what we have been calling for is for the government to meaningfully engage with the communities most affected by the policies, what they haven’t done from the beginning is actually do a meaningful consultation with the Muslim community on what is extremism and what is the definition of extremism.