London – Five years after the passing of the Counter-terrorism and Security (CTS) Act into law, a new report authored by CAGE and published by the Transnational Institute (TNI) compares CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) models in France, Netherlands and the UK, and highlights how private companies, civil society organisations and governments have bought into a vast surveillance and pre-crime web based largely on Britain’s toxic and experimental policy. 

The report, Stranger than Fiction, edited by Professor Arun Kundnani and Niamh Ni Bhriain, is part of a project by TNI and the Stop Islamophobia collective to highlight and combat the structural drivers of Islamophobia. 

Stranger than Fiction highlights:

  • How calls for ‘whole society approaches’ to combating ‘extremism’ have seen surveillance and security rolled out of the exclusive remit of government agencies, and embedded across local governance.
  • That the CVE and counter extremism industry is self perpetuating, constantly validating itself through dubious research that aims to buffer supportive policy. 
  • How PREVENT and its global CVE counterparts both institutionalise Islamophobia, and the corrosive impact this has had on society overall.
  • How “concerns” about “welfare” and “resilience” are used to advance further surveillance of communities and criminalise challenging beliefs. 

Azfar Shafi, co-author of the report and CAGE researcher said:

“The report analyses the interconnection between the emergence of CVE policies, the collapse of state multiculturalism in Europe and the rise of more aggressive nationalism. Five years on from the CTS Act, we reiterate the core point that CVE can no longer be singled out as merely a “Muslim issue”, but must be a political priority across the board”.

“Following the Streatham attack, renewed calls by police figures for increased public surveillance should be understood in light of the existing “whole society approach”: a vast web of private companies, NGOs and government actors lining up to exploit fear based, Islamophobic narratives across Europe. “

“PREVENT and CVE have been made possible by a climate of racism and Islamophobia, kept relevant by ever-shifting parameters of “extremism”, and kept alive by a network of vested political and professional interests. We urge civil society actors across Europe to read and interact with our recent Beyond Prevent report, which sets out an 8-point framework for how safe societies can be possible without PREVENT or CVE.”

Niamh Ni Bhriain, editor of the report and TNI’s War and Pacification Project Coordinator said:

“CVE policies are being rolled out now as a global phenomenon. Yet they are not firmly grounded in international law and, as this report shows, they erode rather than protect  civil liberties.” 

“PREVENT sits within the CTS Act, yet it is not implemented in Northern Ireland, where the threat level is highest in the UK. Therefore, such policies can hardly be claimed to be a fundamental part of countering terror.” 

“We need to be honest about what these policies actually are and what they are doing to society – far from countering terrorism, they institutionalise islamophobia. This includes instilling fear and suspicion of Muslim populations across Britain, through particularly sinister surveillance measures. They are ineffective and a waste of time at best, and are inherently racist, illegal and potentially very dangerous, at worst. It’s time to end CVE.”



Photo by arvin keynes on Unsplash

(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.)