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Nine things British MPs want to change about Prevent

Senior MP Keith Vaz has called for independent review and rebrand of 'toxic' Prevent anti-radicalisation strategy
Veteran MP Keith Vaz, who leads Home Affairs Select Committee, described internet as "modern front line" and "lifeblood of Daesh" (AFP)

After months of gathering evidence, interviewing groups and individuals from across the United Kingdom, the Home Affairs Select Committee released its long-awaited report on radicalisation.

The report comes at a time when the government announced plans to introduce the "Countering Extremism and Safeguarding" bill that is set to take into account many of the findings recommended by the committee. 

Veteran MP Keith Vaz, who leads the Home Affairs Select Committee, described the internet as a "modern front line" and the "lifeblood of Daesh" [an Arabic name for IS] in the fight against radicalisation of young Muslims in Britain today. 

Earlier on Thursday, Middle East Eye reported that many groups mentioned in the report welcomed the recommendations, calling for greater transparency and a review of the 'toxic' Prevent agenda. 

Here is a rundown of the key recommendations that could fundamentally change how British counter-terrorism policy manifests in the years to come. 

1. Calls by the committee for the government to abandon the 'toxic name of Prevent' and rebrand it as 'Engage'

Described as "toxic" seven times throughout the report, the committee called for Prevent to be rebranded as Engage in a bid to distance itself from its "toxic brand".

2. Giving social media companies and "smaller community organisations" power to take down material deemed 'extremist'

Even though the committee mentioned that the definition of extremism is nebulous, it recommended proposals for social media organisations, internet companies and small community organisations to be able to identify, monitor and take down content deemed extremist. Rights groups like CAGE UK have expressed concerns of the government using this recommendation to work solely with groups it allies with ideologically and politically. 

3. Grievances about British foreign policy are 'perceived' rather than real

According to the Home Affairs Select Committee, concerns and grievances about foreign policy are said to be "perceived" rather than real. This line of thought runs contrary to studies that say that foreign policy plays a key role in radicalising young Muslims. 

4. Creating a 'high-tech' hub to combat the 'terrestrial Star Wars'

Committee Chair Keith Vaz in the past has called for "terrestrial Star Wars" to be waged against individuals who attempt to radicalise young Muslims. The committee has recommended that the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit be upgraded into a "high-tech, state of the art, round-the-clock central operational hub" that is able to block and instantly share sensitive information with other security agencies. 

5. No single pathway to extremism 

One key finding in the report is that the path to radicalisation is not clear-cut.

6. Media to refrain from using 'Islamic State' and instead use 'Daesh'

The media and its role in marginalising the UK Muslim community is a key critique in the report. The committee felt that a key mechanism to counter this isolation is for the media to refrain from using Islamic State and instead use "Daesh" and call the militant group "un-Islamic". 

7. The government has no clear definition of 'extremism behaviour'

The lack of understanding regarding what constitutes extremist behaviour is a key concern mentioned by the report, after Prevent became a statutory obligation for all public sector bodies. This has led to what many describe as the misapplication of Prevent - indirectly leading to the marginalisation of the Muslim community. 

8. Prevent breeds alienation of the Muslim Community 

Numerous rights organisations and civil society groups have called for Prevent to be scrapped on the basis of it breeding suspicion and alienation of the Muslim community. The Home Affairs Select Committee agreed and called on the government to take into account concerns expressed by the Muslim community. 

9. 'Lack of English skills' preventing the ability to combat radicalisation

The committee felt that a lack of English language skills among young Muslims helped fuel radicalisation. David Cameron was criticised earlier this year for introducing an initiative aimed at teaching English for Muslim women. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition

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