SHAFAQNA – Syed Mohsin Abbas has worked extensively in radio and television with broadcasters around the world, including Channel 4 and the BBC. During his long television career, he’s hosted and presented current affairs programmes, served as a news reporter, managed Ahlebait Television and produced documentary work for mainstream channels. He has also worked with British Charities and established not-for-profit vehicles for the delivery of cultural social, and spiritually inspired events and conferences over a 35 year career.
It appears that the States targeting of Muslims in Britain is being stepped up a notch. The ongoing contention of Muslim communities in Britain about the discriminatory trajectory of the British governments anti extremist policies against them has resurfaced after former police chief Nazir Afzal accused Islamist groups of peddling ‘myths’ about the UK’s Prevent anti-extremist strategy.
The counter extremism policies in Britain have on the surface, so far, focused on Salafist-Takfiri terror cells but the ongoing vagueness of the term ‘extremist’ along with the broad net spread by the Contest 2 rationale does indeed bring all Muslims of Britain into the frame for scrutiny by the Security services.
Successive governments have now used this strategy to flag up and, many say, infiltrate Muslim communities to drive a range of further anti terror legislation; which then increasingly restricts the civil liberties of Muslims and the nation as a whole. Accessing of passwords of computers, phone tapping, surveillance of Mosques, witch hunt of State run schools and a huge increase in hate crimes against Muslims are just some of the negative impacts these anti terror policies have already had on the rights of ordinary people. The Government argues that they have been able to thwart many terror plots as a result of these policies but the Counbter terror operations and the Channel programme which rehabilitates potential extremists remain shrouded in mystery with a lack of access to intelligence sensitive material and case studies making it hard for the public to demand transparency or assess results .
The Prevent strategies have also provided very little evidence that they are prepared to root out the alleged financial support provided to takfirists in Britain by Saudi Arabia and indeed British Government policy exonerates the Saudi’s of any such activity inspite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of terrorists are proven to originate from the religio political schools of thought promoted by the House of Saud.
Mr Nazir Afzal, who is the country’s most prominent Muslim lawyer and former Chief Prosecutor in the North West, instead claims false information is being spread on the government’s deradicalization programmes. He also argues that British Muslim groups like Cage and Prevent Watch, who have been campaigning against the programmes, are undermining the fight against terrorism by peddling myths about the government’s key anti-radicalisation policy. Prevent Watch and other anti Prevent campaigners say this attack on their work is just yet another effort to silence articulate dissenting voices that oppose the ongoing demonization of the entire British Muslim population.
There is evidence too that Shia communities of Britain, although never linked to any act of terrorism, are now also being scrutinized with terms like Shia extremism beginning to enter the social media and events of Muslims. Only this week the Muslim Youth Association scheduled a discussion which included asking the question ‘Why is Shia extremism spreading?’. The MYA erased the item from the agenda after other Shia activists questioned the purpose of such a debate and identifying who it was referring to. The British Home Office has declared Hezbollah to be terrorist organization and one that is more or less on par with ISIS in their estimation, which begs the question – would the Shia communities identify supporters of Hezbollah in Britain as terrorists too if the government required them to do so? Further proof that the vagueness of the definition of extremism in Britain is a convenience that is no accident, as it affords the establishment a great deal of scope to create fear among both Britain’s Muslims and the mainstream non Muslims.
At the same time so called Shia Clerics such as Yasser Habib, widely recognized as being a dubious purveyor of anti Sunni hate narratives in Britain, has curiously never been troubled by the State’s anti extremism apparatus and continues his arguably ‘extremist’ work to divide Muslims with absolute impunity. Likewise Salafi pseudo scholar Anjum Chaudary was permitted to spread his hate speech without any bother for decades before finally being imprisoned. It seems certain ‘extremists’ may well be more useful than others to the State.