Criticizing the deficiencies in the new bill passed by the government, hundreds of UK academics have snubbed the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, asserting that the infamous bill will "reinforce a prejudicial world view" about Islam.
Academics reject Islamophobic law
Hundreds of UK academics have snubbed the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, asserting that the infamous bill will "reinforce a prejudicial world view" about Islam.
“Prevent will have a chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent," a letter signed by hundreds of British academics published by The Independent read.
"It will create an environment in which political change can no longer be discussed openly, and will withdraw to unsupervised spaces. Therefore, Prevent will make us less safe,” it added.
Rejecting the controversial law, 280 academics, lawyers and public figures said that new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act will only make Britain less safe.
It added that the new law will only rather force radical political discussion underground, than actually help tackle terrorism in UK.
"Growing a beard, wearing a hijab or mixing with those who believe Islam has a comprehensive political philosophy are key markers used to identify 'potential' terrorism," the letter stated.
"Which serves to reinforce a prejudicial world view which perceives Islam to be a retrograde and oppressive religion that threatens the West. Prevent reinforces an 'us' and 'them' view of the world, divides communities, and sows mistrust of Muslims."
Among the leading academics who want the Government to rethink the strategy are Karen Armstrong, one of the country’s most prominent writers on religion, and Baroness Ruth Lister, emeritus professor of social policy at Loughborough University.
Key signatories of the letter confirmed that the government's tendency to link religion and extremism was a dangerous formula.
“The Government’s emphasis on religious ideology as the chief driving force for extremism is both dangerous and ill-informed... It ignores the fact that influential Muslim leaders – Sunni and Shiite, Salafi and liberal alike – have roundly condemned the policies of [Isil] as un-Islamic," Karen Armstrong was quoted by the Independent.
“After interviewing over 500 people involved in the 9/11 atrocities, former CIA officer and forensic psychiatrist Marc Sageman concluded that the problem is not Islam, but rather ignorance of Islam,” Armstrong, author of Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, added.
Another signatory is Rizwaan Sabir, 30, a lecturer in counter-terrorism, who was wrongly arrested under anti-terror laws by Nottingham Police for downloading an al-Qaeda training manual from a US Government website he we was using to research his PHD. He was later paid £20,000 in compensation after he sued the police.
Over a decade after Islam and its 1.6 billion Muslims were likened to Al Qaeda, all Muslims have stood guilty by association, branded dangerous and de facto suspicious.
With the rise of new militant group, the so-called Islamic State (ISIL), British Muslims have said they would wholeheartedly cooperate with the authorities when it comes to tackling the roots of radicalism and extremism, as to prevent further men and women to fall into the trap of groups such as the ISIL or Al Qaeda.
Though experts have admitted that the premise of such a strategy were once good, many have warned that as the strategy evolved on the ground, it may become a tool of repression and not protection, a weapon in the hand of an increasingly policed state rather than a protective shield.
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