London – An important legal battle for freedom of speech is currently underway at the Court of Appeal. The appeal brought forth by Dr Salman Butt, an academic and Editor of Muslim news website Islam21c, seeks to provide legal clarity on the boundaries of the Prevent Duty guidance and questions the legality of the Home Office Extremism Analysis Unit, that collects data on and arbitrarily designates persons as ‘Extremists’.

The earlier High Court decision, which was released after an almost 8 month wait since the date the trial ended, highlighted that the Prevent Duty Guidance was not legally binding. However it shockingly did not consider that Prevent was having any impact on Freedom of Speech within University campuses, something civil society has been highlighting and documenting for years.

Asim Qureshi, Research Director for CAGE said:

“This case is of paramount importance for civil society actors that are challenging Prevent. The government has faced little legal scrutiny over the definitions of extremism, boundaries of Prevent and how this is used to profile and target individuals whom the state deems ‘extreme’.”

“This case has the potential to provide unprecedented insight into how the state operationalises its definition of ‘extremism’. The disclosures in the initial judicial review were the basis of our report ‘Blacklisted’ that revealed how the Home Office was selectively taking advice from groups that have perpetuated Islamophobic discourses in the UK, such as the Henry Jackson Society. These groups have assisted the Home Office in designating and silencing voices of dissent.”

CC image courtesy of Flickr/*SHERWOOD* 

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)