I was targeted as a Muslim supporting Palestine – and that is what Prevent is designed for

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There are only two things I genuinely hate on the face of the earth. Hay fever, and white, Etonian men thinking they know the cures to all of societies problems. One day they are pushing British values down our throats, the next day they are targeting Muslims for not fitting into society. We are living in dangerous times, where little kids are labeled radicals and advocating human rights is seen as a threat.

In the end we shall make thought crime literally impossible, because their will be no words in which to express it. At no point in time has George Orwell’s words seem more apparent than 21st century Britain. A saddening thought. We are seeing this Tory government eat up our civil liberties, while giving strength to Islamophobia and racism. Not only is Prevent practically flawed but also principally, sort of like passing wind in an elevator: wrong on so many levels.

Why am I saying all this? Because the Prevent strategy restricts open debate about important issues and so restricts radical progress. I experienced it first hand at my school.

On an occasion I was walking down a corridor with a Palestine badge. As soon as members of staff saw this they ordered me to take it off because it was against uniform policy. Later on I started wearing the badge on my bag, which wasn’t against school policy, but without justification, they again told me to remove it.

When I was reading a pro-Palestine leaflet from Friends of Al Aqsa, again, a member of staff saw me and confiscated the item. Within a couple of hours I was taken into a room to be interrogated by a special constable who was employed in my school. He was told ‘to deal with Prevent’ and continued to question me on the leaflet I had and conflicts in the Middle East. Nearing the end, he told me ‘Not to talk about Palestine’ even at my break times.

I received questions like ‘are you sure the money is not going to ISIS?’ when me and a couple of friends were trying to raise money for the children of Palestine. I felt that it was deeply Islamophobic at least. The principal also had issues with the poster I designed. I couldn’t mention Palestine in the header, couldn’t put pictures of Palestinian children on it, and couldn’t have a quote from a Muslim person - all in fear of showing sentiment to the Palestinian ’cause’.

These, and many other saddening events, resulted in the Police coming to my house to question me. I passed the first questions with flying colours, proclaiming how I saw ISIS as a terror group. After getting extremely aggressive for talking my mother tongue with my mother, the police officers asked me what sect of Islam I am. I replied that I am a Shia. The officer said ‘we are only looking for certain types of Muslim’ which I think discriminates other sects of Islam.

I can confidently say being a Muslim was one of the reasons I was targeted, and my ethnicity of Afghanistan made sure that the criteria were being ticked.

I was a 15 year old kid, who was not just angry at Israel, but angry at the world for not flinching at the cries of the Palestinians. I was angry because I knew that if the Palestinian children were bleeding oil, the whole world would rush to their aid.

The issue wasn’t wholly about Palestine, it was because a Muslim was supporting Palestine and that, is what prevent is designed for. The truth is Prevent restricts young Muslims from developing any sort of critique against the establishment, and we, the “radical extremists” of this country, have to stand firmly against this damaging piece of legislation that is putting institutional racism within law and within classrooms.

But it is not just about the toxic racism that Prevent drills into our schools and into our societies. It’s also about principle, morals, so called British values. Teachers are becoming microphones, our classrooms are becoming theatres and the police sit in the audience jotting down what we say. As the UN special reporter says, it risks losing a generation of debate and discussion.

And they like to repeat and repeat and repeat so called British values using pictures of Big Ben and the Queen, British values are genocide, war, slavery, exploitation, capitalism. These are British values, this is what our great nation was built upon. The blood of natives, the sweat of Indians and the gold of Africans. This is why British values is nothing to be celebrated, rather we should be saddened at the stain of blood Britain has left on the world.

So what we are looking at today is a cabinet full of millionaires that have no idea the damage of Prevent on the ground. It takes years for someone to understand extremist ideologies, not a 3 hour training course. The government has got it wrong. Ideology is not the cause of terrorism, western foreign policy is. Ideology simply justifies these barbaric acts. So I guess the question we must ask the Eton gang, is do they know what effect that this religiously targeted unclear piece of legislation entails for the younger generation? I doubt very much they could answer this.


Rahmaan Mohammadi who was reported and questioned under Prevent for campaigning in support of Palestinian rights. See articles in The Independent and Huffington Post and Hannah Dee Chair of Defend the Right to Protest discussing the implications on Russia Today.

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