Respected Ulema, Imams, and those active in the Muslim community.
As-salâm ‘alaykum wa rahmatuAllâhi wa barakâtuhu.
I pray my letter reaches you in the best of health and Iman.
I am writing to update you about some of the latest developments on ‘counter-extremism’ or ‘anti-radicalisation’ schemes – due to the arrival of some that try to sell themselves as something ‘new’ or different to the widely discredited and anti-Islamic Prevent scheme.
‘Counter-extremism’ schemes are like cigarettes – some are high tar, some are low tar – but regardless of these small differences or different names, most are the same and any of them can be harmful.
Over the past few months, I have been made aware that some Muslims have considered supporting, or even launching their own, ‘counter-terrorism’ and ‘counter-extremism’ initiatives – a matter that I firmly believe could seriously harm the whole of the Muslim community.
Some of these Muslims might believe that it is important to be seen as doing something to counter the narrative of the policymakers who claim Islam is to blame for the repeated acts of violence perpetrated around the world today. A few may believe it gives them credibility in political circles so that politicians will engage with them more – however, it is a dangerous and un-Islamic attitude to put personal gain ahead of the interests of the wider Muslim community.
Given this background, I wanted to share some of my concerns about the issue of supporting any ‘anti-radicalisation’ programmes in the current climate.
1. Prevent, along with similar programmes that may be proposed in future, deserve to fail.
Prevent has generated suspicion because it was a government brand that had been exposed from the outset for spying on Muslims . So its supporters have been calling for a review and a rebrand in order to save this failing policy. They do this in one of two ways:
The first (supported by the government) is to push Prevent as it is, perhaps accepting a few small changes.
The second also is to support the idea of ‘counter-extremism’ schemes like Prevent – but its supporters say Prevent needs rebranding and some reforms. This is a view that was expressed by Keith Vaz, former Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, as well as by others – including some Muslims. Vaz did not argue for all such programmes to be scrapped – only for a ‘rebranding’ and that these programmes should be ‘community-led’.
In March 2018, a ‘new’ scheme was launched, which had a different name to Prevent and was not a government scheme. The organiser was known for criticising Prevent in the past. Yet he admitted his new scheme had the same aims as Prevent. His criticism of Prevent was not because he thought it was wrong but because it had lost the confidence of the Muslim community.
The Muslim community should be very clear that anyone supporting Prevent, or any scheme that has adopted a Prevent-like narrative, is supporting an initiative that is aimed against Islam and Muslims – a matter I will explain shortly.
Supporting such initiatives would be a betrayal of those Muslim  and non-Muslim organisations and individuals (including doctors, teachers and lawyers)  who have persistently argued against Prevent, and exposed its true aims and motivations.
2. Prevent, along with similar programmes that are based on the same thinking, are clearly aimed against Islam.
There is a lot of evidence for this statement.
The original counter-extremism arguments made by Tony Blair in 2005  were rejected by many Muslims at the time . In addition, the pre-2004 Contest 1 policy ; the criteria for Contest 2 leaked in 2009 ; what has been said in parliament about Prevent ; how Prevent has worked in practice  – all of these illustrate the anti-Islam agenda.
Countering ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’ all seem to be based on the lie that ‘the more Islamic a person is, the more of a risk they are’. So, ‘deradicalisation’ focuses on things like men and women sitting separately, dress codes, or whether or not children can fast in Ramadhan – i.e. it is about secularising Islam, not countering “violent extremism”!
Any scheme that does not define ‘extremism’ in a clear way, or argues that it is some ‘extreme’ strands of religious thinking that cause violence – is a policy that follows the same thinking as Prevent.
So, endorsing any schemes based on this thinking would be supporting policies that are working against Islam and harmful to the whole community.
The Muslim community ought to be challenging this hostile approach, which is built upon a lie about our deen. Being anti-Prevent does not mean you are pro-terror – it simply means you are wholly against a divisive policy that doesn’t do what it claims to do, and which in truth demonises Islam.
Instead, our community ought to be encouraging discussion of the very issues that are labelled ‘extremist’ – like Shari’ah, Khilafah and Jihad as well as a host of political issues from their Islamic perspective – and not self-censoring due to the climate – because that would create a dangerous vacuum for others to fill.
More than that, when one looks at this secular-dominated world that is so troubled, our community ought to be championing more Islam not less and carrying that message to people in society.
3. Prevent, and any similar programmes, are flawed from their roots.
Aside from its clear anti-Islam agenda, the thinking that ‘anti-radicalisation’ and ‘counter-extremism’ is based upon is flawed from its roots, and should never be supported.
In 2016 the Open Society Foundation issued a report  with many proofs against Prevent, like leaked British government documents from 2010 revealing “a clear assessment that individuals do not progress through non-violent extremist groups to violent groups’ and that so-called ‘extreme groups may also provide a legal ‘safety valve’ for extreme views”. Also ‘in 2008, a leaked briefing by MI5’s Behavioural Analysis Unit found that most terrorists were not “Islamic fundamentalists”.’ 
4. Prevent, and any similar programmes, distract from the real cause of politically motivated-violence.
Prevent – and similar schemes – don’t focus on the western foreign policy that has caused the backlash that they say they seek to prevent. They distract from the policies that are actually responsible for the destabilisation of vast areas of the Muslim world and which affect the whole world today.
The Muslim community should be highlighting the real causes; and calling for an end to western-interference in the Muslim world; and argue for the establishment of legitimate Islamic governance that unites and stabilises the region after decades of colonial inspired instability.
5. Community-led ‘counter-extremism’ schemes would backfire on the Muslim community.
It would be naive and foolish for any section of the community to ‘own’ any ‘anti-radicalisation’ scheme.
Whilst politicians and media overlooked failings of Prevent – for example, in failing to prevent the Parsons Green attack – they would not be so forgiving of any community-led initiative. Rather, those who ‘owned it’ and had taken responsibility to deal with the issue themselves would be blamed for not having prevented it.
Moreover, if any section of the community owns the problem, it reinforces the false idea that the whole community is collectively to blame and that there is more we can do – which is a problem for the whole Muslim community.
Muslim organisations should stay far away from accepting collective responsibility for the actions of individuals who are singularly responsible for what they do.
Rather we should focus our efforts on building Islamic values in our communities and inviting others to look at Islam, countering the negative propaganda.
Those who think we can do this while dressed up as some kind of practical elements of a counter-‘extremism’ policy would be very wrong. Firstly, because we believe that such long-term work is solely to please Allah (swt), so that it brings goodness to our community and to the wider society. Secondly, because to try to implement such community programmes by saying they are to counter-‘extremism’ will taint sincere efforts, and destroy the trust of those who you should be seeking to serve. Finally, we should be more mindful that some local and national politicians think Muslims are being two-faced when they start using counter-‘extremism’ labels for community projects.
It should be clear that Prevent and any similar alternatives that are being proposed are based on the same thinking – and have only served to spread hysteria and irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. This distracts from the real causes of violence and attempts to intimidate the Muslim community into replacing Islam with a ‘British’ version of Islam  – one that removes any Islamic ideas or values that do not fit with secular liberal values. This is no different to policies in Muslim countries, where so-called ‘modernisation’ is used to counter Islamic revival.
My concerns are about all counter-‘extremism’ initiatives based upon the dominant thinking today – not just Prevent. I am uncertain of the motivation of those behind these new schemes. They may be well-meaning but confused – but there are also those who know the growing ‘counter-extremism’ industry is very lucrative.
I pray this letter has been beneficial and are taken as a naseehah, for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said
‘ الدِّينُ النَّصِيحَةُ’
[The deen is naseehah (sincerity and advice)]. When he ﷺ was asked “to whom?”, he ﷺ said
‘لِلَّهِ، وَلِكِتَابِهِ، وَلِرَسُولِهِ، وَلِأَئِمَّةِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَعَامَّتِهِمْ’
[(sincerity) to Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and (sincere advice) to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk) [Muslim].
May Allah guide us all and protect us from the plots of those oppose His Deen.
Wassalâmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatuAllâhi wa barakâtuhu
9-Rajab 1439 / 26-March 2018
Chair of the UK-Executive Committee
Hizb ut-Tahrir, Britain
1. Government anti-terrorism strategy ‘spies’ on innocent
2. Middle East Eye (2016)‘British MPs call for rebrand of ‘toxic’ Prevent strategy’ http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/publish-0001-uk-time-426192608
3. Joint Muslim Statement against Prevent(2015)
Muslim community rejects the State’s criminalisation of Islam and condemns moves to silence legitimate critique and dissent
4. Independent (2015) ‘Prevent will have a chilling effect on open debate free speech and political dissent’
5. Guardian (2005) ‘Blair: Uproot this evil ideology’
6. Guardian (2005) ‘The rules of the game are changing’
7. Guardian (2005)Full text: joint statement from Muslim groups
8. Guardian (2004) ‘Secret Whitehall plan to win over Muslim youth’
9. Guardian (2009) ‘Anti-terror code ‘would alienate most Muslims’
10. Hansard (2016) Gavin Robinson: The Government recently published a counter-extremism strategy. When I asked why Northern Ireland, which has a fair number of extremists, was not included in the strategy, I was told, “Don’t push the issue too far. It is really a counter-Islamic strategy.”
11. Prevent watch
12.Open Society Foundations’ Open Justice Initiative (2016)‘ Eroding Trust:The UK’s PREVENT Counter-Extremism Strategy in Health and Education’ https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/eroding-trust-20161017_0.pdf
13. .Telegraph (2010) ’Hizb ut Tahrir is not a gateway to terrorism, claims Whitehall report’
14. New Statesman (2007) ‘Time for a British Version of Islam’