On Sunday, police investigated an 11-year-old Muslim boy in Warwickshire, UK, after teachers sent him to the government’s anti-radicalization program, Prevention. According to the boy’s family, he was asked what he would do if he had a lot of money, and they replied that he “gives alms to the oppressed.” The teacher interpreted this as “giving weapons to the oppressed” and reported the student to the authorities.
The boy’s parents sued the school, accusing it of stereotypes based on race and religion. They ask for a written apology, compensation, and the removal of a referral from the boy’s permanent record.
Although the case was quickly dropped, the boy’s parents, who spoke to The Guardian about the matter, said their family was in trouble. They fear that the direction, despite the fact that it was closed, will remain in his permanent register and will be transferred to the gymnasium, which he intends to attend in September.
Family lawyer Attik Malik of Liberty Law Solicitors has called for the Prevent program to be abandoned, The Guardian reported.
What is the UK Prevent Program
According to a Financial Times report, the Prevent program was launched in 2003 and expanded after the London 7/7 bombings in 2005, which killed 52 people. The report notes that the government said 1,200 people were successfully “distracted from extremism” by the program as of 2019.
According to the program, if a signal is deemed worthy of formal referral, it initiates a verification process to determine the best course of intervention. Minor cases are resolved through means such as parental support, while cases deemed to pose a significant threat of extremism are transferred to the most intense level of prevention known as channel.
The Prevent program has been criticized in the past. Speaking to The Guardian, Dr. Leila Aitlhadj, director of Prevent Watch, said: “Prevention instills suspicion and discrimination deep into the imaginations of frontline workers to the detriment of Muslims.”
In the past, due to such misunderstandings, children were sent to the Prevention Service. Notably, a kindergarten worker once directed a child after a four-year-old boy drew his father with a cucumber, which the teacher thought was a stove bomb.