Defend the Right to Protest is one of the organisations which founded Students Not Suspects alongside the National Union of Students (NUS), the NUS Black Students’ Campaign, Federation of Student Islamic Students (FOSIS) and the University and College Union (UCU) to organise opposition to Prevent in education and beyond.
The Prevent duty became statutory through the 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act imposing a duty on public bodies to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.
The government has based Prevent on the notion that if individuals are expressing what they define as “extremist” views then this is a basis upon which that certain individual may be drawn to terrorism. As a consequence that person should be carefully observed, recorded and reported to the appropriate authority.
The government has defined extremism as: “Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British Values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
As a wide cross section of Muslim community activists, academics, lawyers and politicians warned, the duty has in practice charged teachers, doctors and other professionals with monitoring people’s religious and political views.
Across the country in our schools and colleges, Muslim students are being reported for reading course text books, asking for prayer facilities supporting the Palestine cause or simply mispronouncing words.
This is taking place against the backdrop of a frightening increase in hate crimes against Muslims – reported to be up by 70% in London by the Metropolitan police.
DtRtP believes that policies like Prevent are helping to create this climate of hostility, sowing fear, division, mistrust and prejudice by reinforcing racist stereotypes, stigmatising Muslim communities and in effect encouraging ethnic profiling.
Prevent is also narrowing the space for political dissent in many forms. Anti-fracking and other environmental activists, those campaigning for Palestinian rights, and even those opposing cuts and austerity have been targeted or visited by police under this policy.
Students not Suspects has been formed to campaign against this discriminatory Prevent duty and to achieve its repeal.
We work to
-Provide resources for campaigns: https://studentsnotsuspects.com/resources/
-Offer speakers and help in organising events (email firstname.lastname@example.org
-Work together to build a national network across sectors in opposition to Prevent