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STATEMENT: 17 years later, the Government has still learnt nothing about counterextremism and community cohesion

5 JULY 2022

Issued by 7/7 Survivor Sajda Mughal OBE



Seventeen years ago, I narrowly escaped death in the 7/7 London bombings, and only because I had been running behind schedule and had not got on at my usual carriage. As we remember those whose lives were violently taken from them, I also want to reflect upon the current state of counterextremism in the UK and look towards the future. 


The Prevent strategy hasn’t worked and I have been vocal about this for a number of years. Prevent is indeed a discriminatory policy that is ruining the life prospects of Muslim children. If the leaks of the Prevent Review report are to be believed—and I see no reason to doubt them—the report is set to be a complete whitewash that legitimises right-wing conspiracy tropes and continues to perpetuate the moral panic of Muslims being a threat to this country. 


Muslims have been an integral part of this country for centuries, even when we were brought over by coercion and continue to be discriminated against. We do not deserve to all be painted as extremists and we deserve better. 


The country deserves better.


The country deserves better than this tick-box exercise of a Prevent Review. I chose not to participate and instead contributed my expertise to the People’s Review of prevent, which was conducted by leading academics and grassroots organisations with real independence and expertise of community work. Not only did the Government force this hand through their refusal to properly engage with anyone who expressed true concerns about Prevent, but they also then had the gall to publish a report under the guise of an ‘independent’ thinktank—for which the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, wrote the foreword—labelling critics as extremists and activists who do not have the best interests of this country at heart. It is insulting and defamatory. 


Over the last year, we have certainly seen the extent to which the Government puts the best interests of the country first.


The government chooses to speak and listen to the echo chamber of a minority of Muslim voices who have no credibility. There has been no genuinely independent research into evolving the far right extremist threat—examples of which include the use of video games as a radicalisation tactic by far-right extremists. Instead, the Home Office is choosing to waste valuable taxpayer money in a PR exercise to improve their own image through allegedly independent experts with poorly concealed links to the Government, like Policy Exchange or former civil servants, being brought out to sing from the Government’s hymn sheet.


The country is in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Right-wing extremists keep committing more acts of terror and taking more lives. 


We cannot afford more government inaction and phony words—financially, culturally, or in terms of national security.