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  • Criticisms of Prevent Violent Extremism

    by Sunny
    4th September, 2009 at 11:58 am    

    The government has, you should all know by now, a Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda, which focuses on soft counter-terrorism. This is not your intelligence gathering (overtly) and swooping down on people sort of thing. It’s mostly the let’s win hearts and minds approach.

    There have been critics on PVE on all sides. I’ve been forwarded a report by a organisation (which I won’t mention) that has made these criticisms against this govt agenda.

    • It has led to the disproportionate criminalisation of BME and particularly Muslim communities
    • It locates the burden for fighting terrorism on the Muslim community despite the fact that the majority are peace-loving citizens of the UK.
    • The current usage of the terminology of violent extremism is discriminatory as it ignores the very real threats from far-right and other forms of extremism.
    • It has drawn statutory bodies into the ‘securitisation’ agenda thereby dismantling the traditional relationships of trust and confidence between public bodies and service users.
    • It has led to the abandonment of funding for traditional community development, capacity building and empowerment work with BME communities, replacing it instead with community cohesion, anti-extremism and anti-terrorism approaches which have put Muslim communities under the intense spotlight of the far right and the press and media.
    • It reinforces negative stereotypes and associations of Islam with terrorism and views the British Muslim community through the single issue of terrorism

    Most sound about right, though it occurs to me that the trick isn’t necessarily to get rid of PVE entirely, but hone it much more tightly. And make it much more accountable of course to taxpayers.

    Much of this discussion may also be redundant soon enough because the Tories are planning to kill off the PVE spending splurge anyway. I’m not surprised - it’s still unclear what benefits have been yielded.

                  Post to

    Filed in: Race politics,Religion,Terrorism

    20 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Matt Borum

      Pickled Politics » Criticisms of Prevent Violent Extremism- Ok left-wing bloggers, hit me with your blog links…

    2. pickles

      New blog post: Criticisms of Prevent Violent Extremism

    3. There’s a discussion at Pickled Politic… « Talk Islam

      [...] a discussion at Pickled Politics across a handful of posts on government’s CONTEST strategy. It relates well to another thread on the [...]

    4. Radical Muslim :: The Waterhouse Consulting Group and Dr Waqar Azmi :: March :: 2010

      [...] prevent violent extremism strategy (PVE) which you can read about in a range of places including Pickled Politics, Indigo Jo, Khalifah Magazine, Bracknell, Taxpayers Alliance and even Hizb ut [...]

    1. Boyo — on 4th September, 2009 at 1:35 pm  

      “I’m not surprised – it’s still unclear what benefits have been yielded.”

      There’s the rub: you can’t prove something’s working if its based on absence, ie of a terror attack. One can hardly do a would-be jihadi before and after poll - do you feel more or less likely to blow yourself up, on a scale of 1 to 10….

      Somehow I doubt the Tories will do better.

    2. Andrew — on 4th September, 2009 at 2:42 pm  

      I think a lot of PVE spending is either just thrown down a hole or else it’s just ‘jobs for the boys’.

      A HALF million pound ‘community involvement’ project to tackle violent extremism in Sheffield was condemned today - after it emerged much of the cash is paying for focus groups and council officials’ wages. Just £200,000 of the £505,000 budget - to be spent over the next two years - has been allocated to community work, only £50,000 of which will go to voluntary organisations at grass roots. But £140,000 is being spent on two highly-paid staff, and £85,000 is paying for “action research” including focus groups.

    3. The Common Humanist — on 4th September, 2009 at 3:03 pm  


      Whilst I don’t know the details of that scheme specifically, it would be difficult to address VE if one doesn’t know what, who, when, why etc.

      Just possibly your derided ‘action research’ may help find that out?????

    4. sonia — on 4th September, 2009 at 3:18 pm  

      eRM..sorry you’re going to have to mention which organisation came up with those points..

      some of you don’t seem to realise that what was funded under ‘community development’ can also be funded under community cohesion. these are all buzzy buzz words.

    5. sonia — on 4th September, 2009 at 3:18 pm  

      billericaydicky - do you know something in particular about Tower Hamlets council?

    6. Boyo — on 4th September, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

      I agree with TCH, the common media criticism of spending on “highly paid consultants” etc is quite silly - why spend more on possibly shoe-string voluntary orgs for a year when a one-off investment in policy development might garner longer term results.

    7. camilla — on 4th September, 2009 at 3:34 pm  

      why not mention the organization? a muslim one of course …

      one-sided. self-defending… a muslim one, of course

      so, according to this secret organization, it is enough to stop even think of the possibility of existance of extremists in a muslims community … and the бгыдшь extremism will disappear

      1. “The current usage of the terminology of violent extremism is discriminatory as it ignores the very real threats from far-right and other forms of extremism.”

      muslim extremists threats are not VERY REAL?
      not very real for muslims?

      2. “disproportionate criminalisation of BME and particularly Muslim communities”

      3. “It reinforces negative stereotypes and associations of Islam with terrorism and views the British Muslim community through the single issue of terrorism”

      oh, how typical, it is everybody around to blame - but nor muslims!

      It is not muslim hate preachers who reinforce, it is not muslim - so-called “peaceful” - organization - which do not show appopriate reaction to this or sign petition supporting terrorists, - it is people who notice such behaviour - they reinforce the negative association…

      the X-organisation is another organisation which do n’t really want to fight extremism or racism or whatever… because it really needs it to justify its existance

    8. camilla — on 4th September, 2009 at 3:46 pm  

      everytime I hear of “disproportion” in criminalization, in arrests or the representatives of some race or community, I wonder if the person, stating this, consider that this disproportion is based on racism or on the fact that members of some community commit more crime than the members of another community…

      who is to blame for this disproportion?

      If it is pure racism - it should be proven at first, and if it is not?

      and how this “disproportion” should be abolished? arresting more non-muslims (even obviously innocent), just not to offend muslims?

      I have read about some “european appearance” people arrests In UK - just for racial balance…

    9. Sunny — on 4th September, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

      I see bill is back to making potentially libellous comments on my blog again

    10. camilla — on 4th September, 2009 at 4:28 pm  

      why not answer a question Sunny? you are kind of close to this society (or you are the society) - tell me where the “disproportion” comes from?

      balance arrests aren’t lies

      and I am not bill whatever it means

      what libellous in my comments exactly?

    11. Boyo — on 4th September, 2009 at 4:35 pm  

      i wouldn’t mind smoking some of what camilla’s having… ;-)

    12. damon — on 4th September, 2009 at 6:10 pm  

      What does it mean to be ”criminalised”?
      I know that the police have been using some stupid prevention of terror order as the excuse to be stopping and searching young people. Is that it?

      To the second point that ”It locates the burden for fighting terrorism on the Muslim community”, I’d ask, does it?

      On the third point about it being discriminatory for also not talking about the far right, I was looking through this website and it seems that this government sponsored quango would not be so well suited to trying to prevent violent extremism of the far right kind.

      Most far right people would just stick two fingers up at any initiatives of this kind that were directed towards them.

    13. MaidMarian — on 4th September, 2009 at 7:02 pm  

      ‘It’s mostly the let’s win hearts and minds approach.’

      And surely that is the problem. The people that really need to be targetted have a poisoned mind and no heart. The problem with PVE is that, despite what the press may want us to believe, much of the hearts and minds guff is pushing at an open door.

      Sure, I see nothing wrong with working with particular communities - but that does not mean we should indulge piss-takers.

    14. Binky — on 4th September, 2009 at 7:58 pm  

      Sunny? Are you taking your meds properly?

      The benefits yielded have been as follows:

      -a- Guardianistas have been put on the payroll

      -b- Collaborationist anti-jihadist ‘Good Muslims’ have been put on the payroll and enjoyed some camera time

      Surely that’s enough!

    15. fugstar — on 5th September, 2009 at 1:14 am  

      Quilliam perchance? but didnt they basically ghostwrite contest 2?

      i miss ODPM, their model for cohesion came before CLG and co dumped the extremism thing onto it.

      anyway , these conclusions, and denham, and the birt article seem to point the same way.


    16. Naadir Jeewa — on 25th March, 2010 at 12:26 am  

      PVE is coming in for much flak from every side.

      I’ve heard that some KCL researchers argue that PVE isn’t wide enough, and should just be “Prevent Extremism”.

      Thought that Londonstani sums it best though:

      The discussion about Muslim immigrants turning to extremism often centres around them not wanting to integrate into British life. But it never addresses the fact that many come with high hopes of a new life, and find reality bitterly dispiriting. They come to take advantage of social mobility and a law-abiding society to build a better life for their families. They end up feeling they need to protect their families from the very society they had idolised. Why don’t they go home? Many people I met from more stable parts of the world talked about it “after saving enough”. But like others before them, chances are that they will stay. People who had come with a fantasy of Britain ended just seeing it as an opportunity to earn and a contagion to avoid.

      Government policy seeks to target resources to fix problems in the most cost effective manner. However, the problem of extremism now involves society as a whole. Pre 9/11 it was limited to a section of a section of the population. That has grown with the advent of the Iraq war and the emergence of an image of Muslim militants as righteous men ready to stand against a superpower and the ability to make the established powers of the world look impotent. It’s an image that appeals to people of diverse backgrounds who are disillusioned with their societies. People who aren’t necessarily observant Muslims, or even Muslims at all. But at the same time, the increasingly obvious bloodlust of the men and women drawn to the cause has alienated most Muslims.

      What does that mean for initiatives like Operation Contest’s Prevent aspect? (thanks davidpfbo) On the one hand, allies and partners are easier to identify, but the work that needs to be done has to reach out to more people and address wider issues in our society. Despite the protests of individual voices lobbying for the adoption of their own outlook, work on identity, engagement with more authentic Islamic voices and community work (including seemingly unconnected activities like sports) all have a roll to play. The undertaking is huge and constant fine tuning is vital. It also involves sums that the British government will struggle to find.

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