How the Prevent Counter-Terrorism Strategies Create a Muslim Outgroup and Might Increase the Threat of Terrorism

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Rob FAURE WALKER, Institute Of Education, United Kingdom
As a teacher in East London I used to enjoy heated religious and political debates with the Muslim students who I served. In 2014 these conversations abruptly stopped. I wanted to know why this had happened and to try to understand what the impact of this might be. This project which resulted from a masters dissertation provides some answers and raises some important questions about the State’s relationship with Islam.

The suppression of conversations with my students corresponded with the alleged infiltration of British schools by Islamic extremists and resulted in the UK Government intervening to enforce the Prevent Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Analysis of the current and previous Prevent Strategies and the more recent Prevent Duty Guidance document found that they promote an alienating secular epistemology, reinforce the notion of a terrorist threat, create a Muslim outgroup and redefine ‘radicalisation’ to be associated with violence. The discourse revealed by the research is seen as part of a foucauldian technology that suppresses epistemes other than the secular and it is argued that the creation of an outgroup reinforces terrorist identities and increases the terrorist threat.

The methodology draws on numerous authors to inform discourse analysis and on Zizek’s work on ideology to identify taken for granted knowledge. Contradictions in Government counter-terrorism discourse enable the identification of ideological constructs that would otherwise go unchallenged and remain unrecognised. Identification of such points of diffraction helps to define the secular episteme so that its phenomenological nature can be appreciated, helping to open the door for the postsecular. This project provides a new understanding of the State’s relationship with Islam which needs to be recognised in the future to avoid policy that promotes the threat that it purports to suppress.