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The Prevent Priority Areas confirm the Islamophobia within Prevent

21 FEBRUARY 2022

The findings of the People’s Review of Prevent are undeniable.


Recently, the People’s Review of Prevent—to which I also contributed—published their report on the Prevent counterterrorism strategy, finding that it was fundamentally Islamophobic. Among the many reasons given was the demographics of the Prevent Priority Areas, where the Government sees fit to concentrate their resources.


From my own experience of working within the local community in Haringey and Enfield, and having worked with the Home Office, these findings come as no surprise. Indeed, I have long spoken out about the discrimination and prejudice levelled against minoritised groups, particularly against the Muslim community. 


Thanks to the research of the People’s Review, there is now a publicly available list of these Priority Areas and even less for the Government to hide behind. From the beginnings of the strategy in the Labour Government in 2005 to its continuation and expansion in a series of Conservative Governments, the innate prejudice was always denied as a matter of fact. 


Using the list of the Priority Areas, it is possible to statistically verify whether the demographics are indeed random. Aside from one area that presented logistical difficulties, I looked up the Muslim population in each of these Priority Areas based on census data from 2011 and conducted my own basic data analysis. 


The results are indisputable. 


With very few exceptions, the Muslim population in the targeted local authorities is higher—often, quite noticeably higher—than the average for England and Wales, with the London boroughs being particularly concerning. 


Across England and Wales, the Muslim community makes up less than 5% of the total population, but they comprise as much as 35% of the local population in the Prevent Priority Areas. Over 70% of all Muslims in the country are included in these areas. Even accounting for the occasional anomaly, the average Muslim population across all of these areas was around 13%—still over double the national average.


This demographic discrepancy is even more startling if we take into account the existence of many regions in England and Wales where residents are overwhelmingly, if not solely, Christian or atheist. 


No group is extremist by default, and yet it is hard to explain these numbers with anything other than that kind of umbrella statement being adopted in government policy—particularly if we consider the shift in discourse towards looking at far-right extremism and extremist misogyny as growing terror threats. 


I have spoken out for years about my legitimate concerns regarding how the Prevent strategy is run and how it is framed. Now, the Government is gradually being exposed for what it always has been, and I hope that society realises and does not let the Home Office off the hook. 


The numbers don’t lie. 


A prejudicial strategy that targets minorities only serves to further divisions and prevent full integration. These are not the ‘British values’ that most of us were brought up to hold dear. 


I can only hope that more people will read the report of the People’s Prevent Review and get to know the realities of the counterextremism strategy that are being hidden from the country. 

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