US president has 'contravened every fundamental British value,' says Labour's Yasmin Qureshi in debate on counter-extremism strategy
A British member of parliament on Wednesday called for US President Donald Trump to be referred to the UK's controversial Prevent counter-extremism strategy when he visits the country later in the year.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate about Prevent, Yasmin Qureshi, an MP for the opposition Labour Party and a critic of the strategy, said that Trump had “contravened every single fundamental British value,” and also called for his “fascist” adviser Steve Bannon to be referred.
“We say that Prevent is about British values. I am not making a joke of this, but the President of the USA, through what he has said and his executive orders, has contravened every single fundamental British value,” said Qureshi.
“When he comes to the UK, he should be put in the Prevent programme, along with his adviser, Steve Bannon, who is a right-wing fascist and white supremacist. Both should be put in the Prevent programme when they come to the UK.”
The Prevent Strategy defines fundamental British values as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.
More than 1.8 million people in the UK have now signed a parliamentary petition calling for Trump to be prevented from making a state visit to the country.
British Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump to visit the UK later this year during her visit to Washington last week, although a date for the trip has not been confirmed.
Wednesday's debate on Prevent was held amid calls for the Prevent Duty, which was introduced in 2015 and requires teachers, doctors and other public sector workers to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism,” to be rescinded.
Critics of Prevent argue that it is heavy-handed, discriminatory against Muslims, and has resulted in many children being wrongly referred for questioning by police officers and other Prevent workers.
Last week, a local education authority apologised after a primary school called in police to question two brothers aged five and seven who had told teachers they had been given toy guns by their parents.
Lucy Allan, an MP for the governing Conservative Party who called for the Prevent Duty to be dropped in primary schools and nurseries, said: “The greatest difficulty with Prevent is that it is driving a wedge between authority and the community. The problem lies in the way the communities most affected by Prevent experience and perceive the strategy.
“We could find ourselves in a situation in which the Government decide which views are too extreme and debate can be shut down, so that issues that are better discussed and challenged openly are driven underground... Prevent is operating in a pre-crime space, which sounds positively Orwellian.”
Security Minister Ben Wallace defended Prevent and said that misperceptions about the strategy were being “peddled by an irresponsible media”.
He said that Prevent “could be fine-tuned and do more to engage, build that trust and work with communities,” but that scrapping the strategy would be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.
Wallace said that 150 people had been prevented from going to Syria in 2015 as a consequence of Prevent interventions.
“When one meets people whose children have been saved from going to Syria to fight for Daesh [the Islamic State group], it is quite hard to say to them that the Prevent strategy does not help, that it has not helped to protect their children or even saved their lives,” he said.
“As the minister for security, I have the privilege of knowing about many of the successes... I cannot advertise who those individuals are or put their names on a leaflet for everyone to see, because we want them to progress further in life.”
But Diane Abbott, the Labour party's shadow home secretary, also referred to Trump to suggest that Prevent was counter-productive.
“Of course the government [has] to have a counter-terrorism strategy,” said Abbott. “However, what President Trump shows us is that there is such a thing as an effective counter-terrorism strategy, but there are also ineffective and counterproductive counter-terrorism strategies.
“It is now very clear to everybody that banning people from seven majority-Muslim countries, plus Green Card holders, plus Syrian refugees, from coming into the US has been wholly counterproductive and unsuccessful.”