University staff have recently been asked to inform on those Muslim students who are considered ‘vulnerable’ and appear depressed or isolated. This Guardian article tells us that guidelines are given to ascertain their position as ‘vulnerable’: “Documents handed to staff claim that students who seem depressed or who are estranged from their families, who bear political grievances, or who use extremist websites or have poor access to mainstream religious instruction could be at risk of radicalisation.”
The continued targeting of an innocent community is now reaching a worrying climax. This cold-blooded desire for information is bringing in an almost Stalin-esque shift in policy towards informing on your friends, neighbours, fellow students and maybe one day your family. Since when is it acceptable, in what is supposed to be a democratic state, to ask citizens to inform on each other?
If spying is normal, why not put cameras in every room? Put a filter on every Muslim student’s internet? Track their perusal of “extremist” websites? Better yet, let’s take a leaf out of News of the World’s phone hacking – oh wait, the government’s already doing that. My mistake.
Why not give every student with Islamic leanings a chip to embed in their arm to track their every movement? Let’s have them report to the nearest police station everyday like any other common criminal. They are Muslim, aren’t they?
Facetious anger aside, this is not legal. The government doesn’t seem to understand that deciding to single out the Muslim community, even more so than it already has, is only going to backfire on them. (BackFIRE, get it?)
Angering a community that already has a thousand reasons to hate you is not going to help the problem. Instead, maybe if they provided support for all students that are depressed, isolated or have no close family members, maybe those students would be able to create a support system for themselves.
James Haywood, president of Goldsmiths college students’ union, rightly said: “After the rise of hate groups such as the English Defence League, and the recent massacre in Norway, why are Prevent not also telling us to refer on students who have an irrational hatred of Islam?” Why not indeed? It is interesting that the terror act which was recently perpetrated in Norway was categorised by the media as the behaviour of a crazy man. If, instead, the massacre was carried out by a Muslim, would they still be considered so? Terrorism, it seems, is no longer the word used to describe those who commit a terror act. It is confined to the space that ‘Islam’ occupies in the media hype around terrorism. It has become the justification for changing the very tenets that the UK was built on.
By specifically focusing on students, is the government putting forth the idea that those people who probably have the greatest immersion in British culture in their interaction with other students, are most at risk for the terrible disease that is ‘terrorism’?
With the rise of CCTV numbers, the increase in riot police numbers, the alarming idea that “spying” is normal, the UK seems to be slowly making its way over to a rightist state. Not centre-right, but entirely right-wing, xenophobic, fearful and skeptical of the rest of the world, especially those who come from these “third world” countries.
I hate to make the classic comparison to 1984 and Big Brother, but does the government really think that its human rights violations can continue to go unnoticed? Everything done in the name of the War against Terror seems to be leading them to spy even more upon their own citizens. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights seems to be losing its influence on the laws of this country. This violates Articles 2, 7 and 18 but this seems to make no difference as long as the words ‘Muslim’, ‘extremist’, ‘terrorism’ are bandied about.
The UK is continuing this almost fascist trend, signified by their dismissal of the European Convention of Human Rights earlier this year in reference to the rights of sex offenders and their refusal to sign the Council of Europe’s pioneering treaty to protect women from violence.
Is a country that prides itself most on its democratic principles, its freedom of the press, its apparently equal treatment of every person regardless of the colour of their skin, their religion, their background, finally outwardly changing their tune?