As surveillance has been embedded into the fabric of society, the management and containment of populations has reached new heights of sophistication.
Surveillance practices and capabilities provide the state enhanced forms of visibility to effect containment strategies that ensure its dominance Fiske, For instance, cities are more precisely zoned in ways that ensure ethnic and religious minorities are contained within particular geographic spaces, and marked as being out of place when they transgress the boundaries Hesse, Futhermore, with the intensification of globalisation, European states have moved towards the direct management of religious minorities by adopting repressive strategies of containment.
Some of these strategies include the creation of enclaves to quarantine religious minorities away from mainstream society, which results in the deprivation of mobility and universal rights afforded to citizens Turner, Surveillance technologies are increasingly implicated in these strategies as they are used to create technological rings of steel.
Lewis, In an era of globalisation characterised by mobility, these strategies of containment operating at a national level, have been extended to operate across the world to manage and contain global mobilities. Surveillance practices play a key role in the global management and containment of populations and have led to the emergence of a global Banopticon Bigo, , which is in part aimed at containing foreigners on the margins.
It is made up of a heterogeneous set of discourses, institutions, architectural structures, laws and administrative measures. The attempts to contain a particular population and its political agency using surveillance technologies, is a prelude to a broader strategy of social engineering and discipline aimed at inclusion into a western capitalist order.
Historically, surveillance was at the heart of colonial projects, monitoring the adoption and resistance to imposed European ideals and practices, and monitoring traces of indigeneity that threatened colonial projects. If strategies of inclusion fail, then the individual is purposefully excluded from mainstream society and marked as a threat, for intervention, as the final option. Exclusion is aimed at protecting mainstream society by preventing the excluded subjects from reaching, communicating, and working with mainstream society.
How the West backed radical Islam and unleashed global terror
It enables and legitimises the use of violence, coercion, and intense surveillance, all of which can violate basic human rights Kundnani, Although it was introduced with the seemingly positive goal of preventing radicalisation to terrorism in the UK, and political leaders claim out of necessity that it targets all threats of terrorism and extremism, what is clear, is that counter-terrorism practice particularly in the Prevent strategy targets Muslims in general, and in many cases where there is no suspicion or evidence of criminal activity Cohen and Tufail, ; Versi, It is therefore difficult to sustain an argument about the operation of Prevent counter-terrorism as a response to a terror threat.
Instead, the Prevent strategy has been at the forefront of disseminating and normalising Islamophobia across society, by inscribing its assumptions and prejudices into the structural operation of numerous institutions, and shaping the practices of public sector employees.
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In the strategy, the problem of extremism and terrorism is closely tied to Muslims and Islam, so that the terror threat is regarded as an Islamic threat. Others, such as Davies , have argued that although the policy document does refer to other groups and forms of terrorism such as right wing terrorism , the thrust of the policy is about Islamic terrorism.
The overarching framework that associates Muslims and Islam with terrorism is mirrored in policy discourse in which there are regular associations between Muslims and Islam and extremist and terrorist activity. Blanket approaches to counter-terrorism such as this play on orientalist cultural narratives of an ever present Islamic threat to the west. Framing the terror threat in this way as an Islamic threat means that the infrastructure and focus of counter-terrorism practices, such as surveillance, are overwhelmingly directed at Muslims.
For instance, when Prevent counter-terrorism funding was distributed by central government to local authorities, it was done so in direct proportion to the number of Muslims in a local authority area Kundnani, ; DCLG, More recently, Cobain et al.
It is, therefore, not surprising that given the discursive characterisation of the terror threat as an Islamic threat, and the Muslim-centric nature of counter-terror practice, that Muslims make up an overwhelming proportion of referrals to the Channel programme. This is despite the fact that, according to the last census in , Muslims make up 4.
Surveillance is at the heart of containment mechanisms in the Prevent strategy and it has fundamentally reshaped relations between Muslims, the state, and wider society. Prevent awareness training such as the Home Office Workshop to Raise Awareness about Prevent theorises that a terrorist attack is the end point of a process, or the tip of an iceberg. In order to monitor the process, and identify individuals on the path to radicalisation, the job of Prevent work is to encourage vigilance and to look for signs, Footnote 3 such as behavioural changes, that would indicate a person is on a conveyor belt of radicalisation to terrorism.
Since the vast majority of the iceberg is not easily visible it has to be made visible by strategies of surveillance and monitoring, to allow interventions in the process HM Government, a. This view of radicalisation and terrorism moves Prevent counter-terrorism into the pre-crime domain of pre-emption, which is built upon strategies of surveillance Qurashi, In order to predict and pre-empt an action, there needs to be some level of intelligence to inform decision making.
As such, surveillance in the Prevent strategy is not an aberration, or the product of poor practice, but an inbuilt feature of a strategy that is oriented to acting on the future. There are some indications that intelligence gathering has been at the heart of Prevent practice. More recently, following the terrorist attack on Manchester in , Home Secretary Amber Rudd countered claims on an episode of Question Time, that cuts to police funding may have impeded the prevention of the terror attack.
Despite this, there have been longstanding denials from the Home Office about allegations of spying as part of the Prevent strategy. Rather, the review claimed that information was only collected for community mapping and project monitoring.
However, several Muslim organisations across the country funded by the Prevent strategy, claimed that police and Prevent officers regularly requested, by pestering and pressuring, for specific detailed information about the young Muslims using their services. Using ethnographic data, the next part of the article demonstrates how infrastructures of surveillance have been created in Muslim communities using the Prevent strategy. The more overt and apparent strategies involve CCTV surveillance at times in a targeted fashion, such as Project Champion in Birmingham , and higher levels of policing.
Across all of the research sites, the high level of policing of Muslim communities was a constant theme of daily field notes.
The noise of police sirens, overhead helicopters, the flashing of police lights, police and police community support officers patrolling the streets in large numbers, police in cars, CCTV vans, riot vans, police on bikes, on horseback, and in unmarked cars made it clear during fieldwork that these communities were being heavily policed.
At peak times outside mosques Friday prayers and during Ramadan there was always a police presence police officers either standing outside or driving by in CCTV vans ; Fig. Police officer outside a mosque after Juma Friday prayer. This figure is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution 4.
But since the introduction of the Prevent strategy a new layer of surveillance in Muslim communities has been built, enabled by a policy agenda of direct community engagement operationalised by the institutionalisation of relations between local authorities and local communities. Direct community engagement, in the form of building networks, fortifying relations and inviting local voluntary organisations into institutionalised spaces, was a policy agenda most strongly adopted and championed by the New Labour government in The rationale for this direct form of community engagement was to address a democratic deficit by encouraging politicians and policy makers to listen and respond to the needs of the people, particularly those excluded from decision making such as ethnic minorities, and by doing so, improve public service delivery Cornwall, Rather than heralding neighbourhood renewal, these new governance spaces mask new forms of state control given the power imbalances, ongoing attempts of re-centralisation, and practices of co-option.
In this context, in an attempt to acquire greater power, voice and impact, some community actors internalise the rationalities and objectives of the state and economy to demonstrate their capabilities for governing in ways that suit the dominant powerful state actors Farrelly and Sullivan, ; Taylor, Direct community engagement with Muslim communities to deliver the objectives of the Prevent strategy was built upon an institutionalisation of relations between local authority organisations such as the police, Prevent officers and local authority officers and Muslim civil society organisations such as mosques, community centres and youth clubs that received Prevent funding.
Why don’t we stop them?
A pretext of project management and support allowed local authority figures to meet regularly at least once per week, often more regularly depending on the number of sessions per week with the Prevent funded organisations and build informal and formal institutionalised relations. However, local authorities have used these opportunities and pretexts to saturate large parts of Muslim communities and build infrastructures of surveillance.
The institutionalisation of relations with Muslim communities to deliver the Prevent strategy needs to be situated in this context, in which local authorities attempted to gain a level of buy-in from Muslim communities and responsibilise them to take a role in counter-terrorism in their own communities. Muslim actors internalising the objectives of the Prevent strategy and implementing them in their own communities, was a more effective method of achieving the counter-terrorism objectives, than using a more hierarchical approach involving external actors from police forces and local authorities.
This approach was particularly important for the Prevent strategy given that, I would argue, a rationale of surveillance underpinned Muslim community engagement. Institutionalised relations between Muslim civil society organisations and various local authority organisations whether it is the local police, counter-terrorism unit CTU or Prevent officers have been cultivated in various ways. For Muslim organisations, access to new sources of funding was a major factor that informed their decision to engage with local authorities on the Prevent agenda.
The funding from the Prevent stream provided a much needed income, and engaging with the Prevent agenda also raised the profile of an organisation. For local authorities, however, engagement with particular Muslim organisations was in part determined by the size and reach of their network into the local Muslim community.
As local authorities received Prevent funding from central government, local Prevent officers consulted with Muslim civil society organisations to raise awareness about the availability of new Prevent funding, about the kinds of projects that they should create such as youth leadership programmes , and encouraged them to submit applications. Those organisations that were interested in applying for the Prevent funds were supported by Prevent officers through the application process, and applications were assessed at commissioning panels.
One Muslim youth organisation in Birmingham, formed and led by Aleesha and some core members, to provide educational support for local young people, decided to apply for Prevent funding:. So, we set up this organisation which Alhamdulillah is doing really well. So, for the first year, we just did workshops and circles with the girls, you know, and we invited speakers to give talks. For example, we have our workshops. But we need a venue for that. The other thing was, we needed more dedicated staff, because we were all volunteers, and someone who could work dedicated constantly.
We needed more dedicated staff because the numbers grew and so we needed more staff. We tried to apply for funding but we needed better advice. A year before he approached us, he did get in touch and asked if he could work with us. We needed money and he knew one of the council workers we approached and he found out that we were applying for funding.
And he thought it would be good to have a link with the police. So I wrote this funding application and it was crap. We never asked for that much initially. So we had to go back and ask them for more and they OK-ed it. It was easy because they knew us and they knew we had contacts in the community and we were working with young Muslims. Another Muslim youth organisation in Leeds began with similarly humble roots.
They began as a small group of friends working with young Muslims in the local community on volunteering initiatives as a way of dealing with issues such as gang crime. One of the founders explains:. At this point they were encouraged by the local council to apply for Prevent funding, with the support of local Prevent officers:. In these cases, the organisations were known to Prevent officers in the local council, and had good networks with the local Muslim community.
One way to read it would be to suggest that for the local Prevent board, transparency and access into an organisation with deep and broad roots into the Muslim community, was of more importance than the amount of money being spent or the kinds of projects that were created. What was striking about many of the organisations, such as the two above, that received Prevent funding, was that they did not always seem to be obvious choices to be working on preventing extremism related projects as their expertise lay elsewhere. However, a common feature of many Prevent funded organisations was their deep reach and network into their local Muslim community.
While seemingly benign, this afforded local authorities a pathway of access into Muslim communities. Not all Muslim organisations were comfortable working on the Prevent agenda, and in those cases, Prevent officers would attempt to exploit the financial insecurity of an organisation to exert some pressure on it to adopt the Prevent strategy. Two Muslim youth clubs, one in Leeds and another in Birmingham, both reported being pressured in this way. In Birmingham, Mahmoud had been looking for a new source of income including from the local council to fund his organisation. Prevent officers learned of his financial difficulties and would regularly contact him and encourage him to apply for Prevent funding:.
Prevent funded Muslim organisations were targeted by a range of state actors, such as Prevent, police, and counter-terrorism officers, to establish close working relations and embed officers with the organisation.