A Decade Lost: Rethinking Radicalisation and Extremism

A Decade Lost: Rethinking Radicalisation and Extremism by Professor Arun Kundnani

A report released today by Professor Kundnani and Claystone (a social cohesion think tank) critiques the government’s Prevent strategy and calls on the government to end this controversial programme. Prevent has already been previously been discredited by CAGE.

Professor Arun Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror (Verso Books, 2014). He teaches terrorism studies at John Jay College, New York, and is an adjunct professor in the Media, Culture, and Communication department at New York University. He has been a Visiting Fellow at Leiden University, Netherlands, an Open Society Fellow, and the Editor of the journal Race and Class. His previous book is The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain (Pluto Books, 2007).

“An official narrative holds that terrorism is caused by the presence
of extremist ideology. Extremism is defined as opposition to British values.
To prevent terrorism, according to this narrative, the government should
intervene to stem the expression of extremist opinions and demand
allegiance to British values.”

“Advocacy of the official narrative on the causes of terrorism has had a
significant polarising effect on public discourse in Britain, contributing to a
climate of systematic hostility to Muslims. This has happened in two main
• The term “extremism” is used selectively and inconsistently to construct
Muslims as a suspect community and to discourage the expression of
radical opinions;
• The debate on multiculturalism is securitised so that a series of distinct
issues involving Muslims in public life are interpreted through the lens of
clashes over identity that can only be remedied by demands for assimilation.”

“The Prevent agenda, with its near total focus on Muslims, in practice
undermined the best elements of the new cohesion policies and returned
local authorities to engaging with select community leaders who were seen
as the best way of embedding government policy within communities. Efforts
to bridge communities and overcome ethnic fragmentation tended to be
neglected with Prevent’s focus solely on Muslims. As Prevent evolved under
the Blair, Brown and Cameron governments, it increasingly emphasised the
demand that Muslims declare their allegiance to British values.
The criticism of multiculturalism embedded in the official narrative on
extremism is thus quite different from that of the earlier cohesion agenda and
appears more like a return to demands for cultural assimilation. Moreover, the
failure to assimilate to British values is now presented as a national security
threat, adding an unprecedented intensity to questions of identity”.

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