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UK Students Staff Decry Muslim Monitoring

Published: 16/03/2012 05:21:16 PM GMT
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CAIRO - UK student groups and teaching staff are raising concerns over anti-terror strategy applied in university campuses which targets Muslim student (more)

CAIRO - UK student groups and teaching staff are raising concerns over anti-terror strategy applied in university campuses which targets Muslim students, saying it is discriminatory and encourages spying.

“Stand in solidarity with those negatively affected by Prevent,” says a motion expected by the National Union of Students (NUS), The Guardian reported on Friday, March 16.

"The language, concepts and unspecific terms of definition used in the Prevent strategy are unhelpfully generalist and in some cases problematic, and could well be open to discriminatory interpretations," it adds.

Protesting the government's counter-terrorism “Prevent strategy” on university campuses, student groups said they were getting encouragement to spy on their fellow Muslim colleagues.

After the Guardian revealed university staff had been asked to inform on depressed or isolated Muslim students, the NUS says it received government assurances in September last year that student unions would no longer be approached to provide students' details.

But, sources at the University of Bradford say they have been asked to disclose students' names and dates of birth to a liaison officer working as part of Prevent.

This officer also used to attend activist meetings on campus.

The university confirmed later that it worked with counter-terror police as part of a program involving "risk and tension monitoring", and that it had a member of staff who worked as a Prevent liaison officer.

Along with the NUC motion, a London-wide student manifesto calling for Prevent to be "reviewed extensively" has been also authored by union representatives from King's College, the London School of

Economics, University of the Arts London, Queen Mary and Imperial College.

Lectures Too

Not only students. There has been equal unease among British universities' teaching staff.

"We're happy with information and awareness raising; what we're not happy with is the idea that teachers and lecturers are going to be trained to monitor a specific ethnic group," said Norman Crowther, spokesman of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

Though far-right groups were identified as a possible threat, ATL said that Muslims continued to be singled out as part of the strategy.

Without proof, those non-violent Muslim students in British universities were predominantly targeted, ATL added.

The £60m "Prevent" strategy was first released in 2006, following the July 7, 2005 attacks on London subway and bus stations.

It was designed to curb extremism and raise awareness in public and prevent Muslims from being lured into extremist ideologies.

However, the “Prevent” strategy was widely criticized as focusing predominantly on British Muslims.

Britain's two million Muslims have taken full brunt of anti-terror laws since the 7/7 attacks.

They have repeatedly complained of maltreatment by police for no apparent reason other than being Muslim.

A Financial Times opinion poll has showed recently that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.

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