Thomas, Paul (2015) Deepening divides? Implementing Britain’s Prevent counter-terrorism programme. In: Second Australasian Conference on Islam: Radicalisation and Islamophobia, 30th November - 1st December 2015, Sydney, Australia. (Unpublished)

The reciprocal and recursive relationship between radicalisation and Islamophobia and the extent to which policy interventions exacerbate or ameliorate this relationship can be examined through analysis of terrorism prevention programmes. The 7/7 bombings had a profound effect on Britain and directly initiated the ‘Prevent’ counter-radicalisation programme within the overall national counter-terrorism strategy. Here, Britain was a forerunner in such preventative approaches and has attracted much interested from other states. Prevent has been highly controversial throughout its existence, arguably both reflecting and re-enforcing an Islamophobic focus on British Muslims. This paper uses the existing empirical evidence from the author and others to examine the ground-level experience of interpreting and enacting the Prevent strategy. It argues that different phases of British multiculturalist policy (and Prevent is one of them) can only be understood at this level of implementation, drawing on wider theories of ‘policy enactment’ (Braun et al 2010).
Here, the paper concurs with the view that, until recently, labelling Prevent as an Islamophobic surveillance programme was too simplistic (O’Toole et al, 2015).However, it argues that, despite significant policy adjustments and some benefits that have inevitably flowed from such a large programme, many ground level practitioners and communities continue to see Prevent as highly problematic. In particular, it argues that the very establishment of Prevent, with its overwhelming focus on Muslims as a distinct, essentialised community and Prevent’s resulting contradiction to community cohesion policies both reflected and re-enforced Islamophobic discourse within society. These divides have subsequently been deepened by recent changes that have foregrounded large-scale surveillance of Muslim youth, based on the flawed notion of ‘radicalisation’, and so significantly securitised British education and welfare.

Paul Thomas Paper to the Second Australasian Conference on Islam 2015.pdf - Accepted Version
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