London – As the Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) releases its Call for Evidence for its study into ‘extremism’, we call for complete disengagement from this exercise, which at its core aims to provide a basis for the implementation of repressive counter terror and extremism policies.
CAGE reiterate our call to disengage with the CCE, and to boycott this Call to Evidence, for the reasons outlined below:
- The CCE is a dangerous development in British counter-extremism policy thinking and an ideologically-driven project to entrench disastrous policies like PREVENT. CAGE has previously written about the CCE and why we oppose it in its entirety.
- The CCE has already stated that the purpose of this Call for Evidence is to help develop a working definition of ‘extremism’, compensating for the fact that government has thus far been unable to define it legally.
- Through this public consultation, the CCE are aiming to build public consent and buy-in around a definition – such a definition will likely then be used as the basis of referrals to PREVENT, and to target individuals and groups using other strands of counter-extremism.
- Simultaneously, the CCE is acting as the ‘friendly face’ of counter-extremism, giving the impression that communities will be listened to, in order to develop a counter-extremism that can ‘work for them’ and that will cover ‘all forms of extremism’ rather than being focussed only on Muslims.
- Our firm belief is that an unjust programme like PREVENT, wielded against more communities, is no less unjust. Through this consultation, communities will effectively be consulted on the terms of their own subjugation.
- In addition to Sara Khan’s extensive history as an ambassador for PREVENT through her organisation Inspire, the CCE’s ‘Expert Group’ includes a cross-section of figures embedded within state counter-terrorism and extremism.
This includes former Head of Counter-terror policing Mark Rowley, founder of Tell MAMA Fiyaz Mughal and Emman El-Badawy of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and formerly Quilliam Foundation.
Meanwhile Hannah Stuart of the rightwing Policy Exchange, and former Research Fellow at the Islamophobic Henry Jackson Society, is on secondment to the Commission.
- Any pretence to the CCE being truly independent, or of meaningfully challenging the state’s direction of travel over PREVENT, are therefore baseless.
Asim Qureshi, CAGE’s Research Director said:
“The CCE is an endeavour to institutionalise structurally Islamophobic policies. Furthermore the ‘expert group’ put together by the CCE commissioner Sara Khan is nearly entirely made of individuals who have been embedded within programmes that securitise Muslims. They have been involved in circles that perpetuate such policies and are all the more reason communities should boycott the CCE.”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)