The newly released Policy Exchange report, “Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism”, is a misleading and flawed study and the decision by the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron to endorse its findings is further legitimisation of Islamophobic tropes that are now dangerously pervasive in our society.  

In its attempt to discredit mainstream Muslim groups, Policy Exchange misrepresents long-held concerns over the UK government’s Prevent programme; it paints legitimate opposition to the controversial policy as enablers of terrorism. 

Muslims are not alone in their criticism of Prevent. The United Nations' human rights group, Amnesty International, Liberty and many others have all expressed serious concerns about the programme. 

The tragic murder of Sir David Amess further highlighted major flaws with Prevent. Ali Harbi Ali, who was found guilty of the murder, had been referred to Prevent seven years earlier. He is not the only one who despite going through the government’s deradicalisation programme, went on to commit horrific acts of terrorism.  

It is because scrutiny of any policy that fails in such a tragic manner is considered good practice in any healthy democracy that Nazir Afzal, former chief Crown prosecutor for north-west England, said: “The Prevent programme appears to be failing, so many people are known to the authorities, they are on the programme, and the programme is failing them.”

David Cameron’s decision to ignore these concerns and endorse the anti-Muslim agenda of a right-wing think tank, which BBC Newsnight accused of fabricating evidence about mosques disseminating extremist literature, is further sign that a worryingly high number of people within the British establishment believe that honesty, academic rigour, and basic principles of free speech can be brushed aside when it comes to the demonisation of Muslims.

The East London Mosque condemns the targeting of British Muslim groups in this manner who, like countless others, have expressed legitimate concerns over a government policy that has done more to fuel the demonisation of Muslims than combat all forms of extremism and radicalisation.