CAGE welcomes the National Union of Students (NUS UK) principled opposition to the government’s Counter Terrorism and Security Act and PREVENT.
The motion passed recently by the NUS national conference in Liverpool commits to ensuring that, as far as is practical, NUS does not engage with the PREVENT strategy, to oppose the Counter Terrorism and Security Act and actively work to cut PREVENT funded initiatives.
A growing number of trade and profession unions have expressed concerns about being required to act as agents of the state.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) have accused the PREVENT strategy of conflating “a notion of British values and an* elastic notion of non-violent extremism that is shutting down that debate.”
A senior member of the NUT executive added it was a “blunt instrument*”. Moreover the guidance requiring schools to report any concerns about pupils, has been described by the NUT as heavy-handed and could see teachers facing prosecution for failing to report to police any suspicions they had about pupils.
The motion also asks NUS to encourage student officers to lobby their universities to be more open and transparent about how they are engaging with PREVENT, CHANNEL and other similar initiatives. This involves demanding publications of how the policy is operating within their university and gaining access to materials used to train staff and students.
NUS also “reaffirmed opposition to PREVENT, and to work with civil liberties organisations working to challenge it”. With a commitment to work “alongside civil liberties groups including CAGE, lobby the government to repeal it [Counter Terrorism and Security Act] immediately.”
CAGE welcomes this position as it will avoid the alienation of Muslim communities and sends a powerful message to students that all groups need to work together in countering the narrative that Muslims are a threat to society instead of equal partners committed to creating a more equal, just and fair society for all.