Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism

The Activist Campaign to Demonise Prevent

April 26, 2022

The Prevent counter-terrorism strategy is perhaps the most controversial government policy most people have never heard of. Public recognition of it is generally low, but opposition from Britain’s raucous Islamist scene, near total. From there, opposition has spread to sections of the far-left, and those parts of academia where Islamism and the revolutionary left intersect. This report, written by three experts on Islamism, outlines the campaign against Prevent, and argues that this is not an exceptional campaign against a uniquely flawed policy – the groups opposing Prevent have tended to criticise pretty much any counter-terrorism policy, in sine cases for a generation. The same names and campaign groups appear time after time regardless of the colour of the government of the day.

Disappointingly, ministers and officials have tended to shy away from some of these debates, allowing misinformation, and even conspiracy theory, to flourish. The forthcoming Prevent review by William Shawcross risks being dead on arrival if this continues. The authors call for a Centre for the Study of Extremism to give Ministers the tools to properly push back against campaigners, with a separate communications unit to disseminate rebuttal, and a due diligence unit. The latter is needed to ensure that government departments and the public sector are choosing their friends wisely. Too often anti-Prevent campaigners are able to grandstand against government counter-terrorism policies, whilst at the same time receiving government patronage and engagement. It should no longer be possible to run with the fox, and hunt with the hounds.

This report is much needed to highlight the smoke and mirrors that some groups have thrown up around Prevent. I know that many lives have been changed from the trajectory of self-destruction and harm to others, because of Prevent and the work that many have done to stop some people heading into a very dark place. It is not a perfect scheme, but it is not the threat to Muslims that some of these divisive groups promote for their own self-interests”. The lobby of groups painting Prevent as a threat to Muslims, need to take a long hard look at their actions and it’s impacts on public safety. Indeed, in placing themselves as ‘saviours’ for Muslim communities, some within them take a very intolerant set of positions against Muslims with alternative views on Prevent. Which begs the statement that their Putinesque actions of enforcing their will and views on others, needs to be resisted at all costs. The public deserve to be safe and British Muslims not held in the sway of such shape shifters who promote fear, untruths and in some cases divisiveness.

Opposing Prevent is a die in a ditch issue for a small number of determined activists. This investigation shows however that it is not just Prevent, but virtually any counter-terrorism policy, from any government, which is denounced. In the real world, we do not have the luxury of behaving in this manner. The need for communities to come together, to work with the authorities to oppose extremism, is as great as ever. It is time to push back against those who seek to divide us.


Sir John Jenkins

Senior Fellow

Dr Damon Perry

Senior Research Fellow (2021-2023)

Dr Paul Stott

Head of Security and Extremism

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