The Prevent duty: Counter-terrorism in an age of Islamophobia

Conference

The Prevent national conference, featuring the NUS’s Malia Bouattia on the mic. Shouts to the big head crew obscuring the shot.

Recently, I attended a conference in London about the Prevent duty, how it might be Islamophobic and the way in which it could infringe on everyone’s civil liberties.

What is the Prevent duty?

Those of you who work in schools, university and other public services have no doubt heard the word ‘Prevent’ crop up fairly regularly across the past year. But what does Prevent actually mean? The Prevent strategy was initially conceived under Tony Blair’s New Labour as a response to the 7/7 London bombings in 2005. These days, the Prevent duty tends to refer to Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. Section 26 states that public sector organisations such as schools, NHS trusts and local authorities¬† are required to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. Specifically, these organisations are required to keep an eye on people using their services and report anyone who they believe might be vulnerable to terrorism.

Why is Prevent problematic?

So far so good, stopping people being drawn into terrorism is a positive thing, right? Well, you may be surprised to hear that Prevent is pretty problematic in its application on the ground. In the first instance, police statistics indicate that 57.4% to 67% of people referred under Prevent come from a Muslim background. So there’s a pretty big issue with religious/racial profiling here. Take Mohammed Umar Farooq, who was a Terrorism, Crime And Global Security MA student at Staffordshire University. Mohammed was seen reading a terrorism studies textbook in his university library and was subsequently questioned by staff about his views towards homosexuality, Isis and al-Qaida. Although he responded reasonably and expressed opposition to extremism, Mohammed was referred to university security officials under Prevent.

Incidentally, Prevent’s loose definition of ‘extremism’ includes the expression of non-violent opposition to political views (e.g. British foreign policy). Schoolboy Rahmaan Mohammadi found this out when a special constable at his school started hassling him for wearing a ‘Free Palestine’ badge. Rahmaan also wanted to raise money for families affected by the 2014 military assualt on Gaza. However, he was told not to use the word ‘Palestine’ on flyers, to use images of olive branches instead of Palestinian children and to use a quote from a Christian poet instead of a Muslim poet. None of which really makes any sense. In fact, this sort of advice simply acts to shut down the sort of charitable fundraising Rahmaan was attempting and, in all honesty, is very discriminatory.

Oh yeah, in case you’re in any doubt, the current police lead for Prevent recently spoke out against Prevent as an undemocratic programme that is creating “thought police”. Nice. Even the lead for Prevent thinks it’s problematic.

So how does Prevent affect me?

If you’re a Muslim, I imagine it’s pretty clear how Prevent affects you. For those who aren’t Muslim, it’s pretty shocking how the government is treating British citizens. Moreover, if you work in the public sector, your government has made it a statutory duty for you to spy on the people using your services. That’s right. If you’re a doctor, then alongside shift work, endless admin and unpaid extra hours, Theresa May also wants you to do a bit of sneaky surveillance on the side.

Even if you don’t work in the public sector, Prevent will ultimately affect you. Prevent is very concerned with anyone displaying political dissent. In fact, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, has been identified in Prevent training sessions as an example of an ‘extremist’, presumably on account of her grassroots environmental action around important issues such as climate change. Let’s imagine you’re not very happy with the result of the upcoming EU referendum (aka Brexit) and express some annoyance about this. Under Prevent, you’re an extremist and someone should probably refer you, just in case. Is this really the sort of society we want to build?

Okay, what can I do about Prevent?

If you’re shocked by Prevent (which I hope you are!), there’s a number of ways in which you can do something about this. The NUS already boycotts Prevent and is currently running an excellent campaign. Many trade unions are organising action in this area. In further and higher education, the UCU have this guidance. In other public services, Unison have issued this. And for the teachers among you, the NUT recently backed a motion for Prevent to be scrapped.

Naturally, you might want to take a more hands on role. Groups such as Stand Up to Racism and Muslim Engagement and Development have proven effective in organising local action, so it’s worth looking into who’s active in your area.

Finally, one of the best ways to express your concern is to inform others about Prevent. Have a chat with your colleagues and children. Collective voices carry more weight than individual voices – together we can prevent Prevent!

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Taking a pounding: A quick tour of coin fetishism

Things all got a bit serious last week. I started banging on about refugees and you, dear readers, fled in droves. You obviously didn’t flee to the polling stations though, because some twat and a couple of journalists managed to convince the British electorate to leave the EU. As a committed allophile, I’m a bit disappointed by this. But that economically messy, disgustingly xenophobic and utterly deceitful cloud comes with a beautiful silver lining. And that silver lining is Brexit gay money erotica.

Now I know you lot are a bunch of dirty perverts who are itching to read about rubbing (off to) the Queen’s nose, but before we get down to business, a quick shout out to the friend who brought my attention to the literary masterpiece I’m about to describe. Pounded By The Pound: Turned Gay By The Socioeconomic Implications Of Britain Leaving The European Union was published on 24th June 2016 by author Chuck Tingle, a man famous for his butt-pounding back catalogue of classic tomes such as anti-hunting manifesto Hunter Dentist Pounded in the Butt by the Handsome Unicorn and political thriller Feeling The Bern in my Butt. Aside from being a timely reflection on post-referendum British identity, Pounded By The Pound makes a number of interesting observations. As my mate has already pointed out, the Queen’s guard being replaced by flying reptiles already happened some time ago. What really jumped out at me though, was the following declaration:

This erotic tale is 4,200 words of sizzling human on monetary unit action, including anal, blowjobs, rough sex, cream pies and living pound love.

If you know me, you’ll know that I simply cannot resist the deviant delights this blurb promises. So without further ado, I welcome you to the world of coin fetishism.

Please put a penny in the old man’s…

So, where do we start? If I’m honest with you, coin fetishism is pretty damn niche. I mean, there’s these guys and girls from the compelling website CoinTalk.com, who have made a coin porn thread (the jokers!). In a slightly more explicit and NSFW setting, we’ve also got this fellow, who has somehow managed to hide a lot of shrapnel in his foreskin – I count about 50 bits. While this could definitely constitute coin fetishism, the mystery masturbator in question doesn’t provide much of an explanation for what he’s doing. On the one hand, he may love the tender tactility of two-pence pieces on his penis. But, on the other hand, he might just like a challenge.

The closest I could get to anything more in-depth is this brief description alongside a NSFW photo from your boy greencrack on Reddit:

Love this coin. 1.5 oz. Maple with a wolf, so meaty and thick. Told gf about silver porn she thought it was werid but likes it. Women love precious metals and I love both. http://imgur.com/a/73P9V

Of course, it may be the case that greencrack‘s interests in women and silver are mutually exclusive. But let’s have a look at what exactly he likes about the coin. Note how greencrack emphasises the weight of the coin first and then describes it as ‘meaty and thick’. It seems to me that there’s something about the feel of the weight, about it being a solid piece of metal that really appeals to greencrack. Interestingly, that description of ‘meaty and thick’ tends to be used in relation to another sexual domain, one that you may have just witnessed in the video above. I don’t think that greencrack necessarily sees the coin as phallic in appearance. But to me, he is definitely sexualising the coin. And it may be that by placing it on his girlfriend’s naked body, he feels that it’s an extension of his own (not so meaty) member. Either way, greencrack seems to view his bullion in a very sensual way.

Getting nasty with nickels

When it comes to finding out about different sexual interests, internet forums are usually your friend. Surprisingly then, one of the best explanations of how exactly coins might be arousing comes from a 2011 prime-time television interview with pop-star Kesha. If you can get past Conan O’Brien’s old white dude hegemonic sleaziness, things get real interesting around 3:25:

In her brief explanation, Kesha talks about running her hands through the coins and hearing them jingle together. In other words, she’s getting at the feel of coins in her hands and the sound of coins to her ears. Let’s make a parallel with your own sex life. Do you get turned on when you stroke your dick or someone else’s? Maybe that’s what Kesha feels when she grabs a fistful of dollars. Do you feel a shiver down your spine when someone whispers their dark desires in your ear? Maybe that’s what Kesha feels when she hears the sweet sound of quarters in a bag.

C.R.E.A.M.(pie)

We, as humans, live embodied lives. And that embodiment means that we’re in touch with all of our senses. As long as we are still able to experience them, it’s entirely possible that any experience with those senses could give us a (lady) boner. For me, this is entirely what coin fetishism seems to be about – highly sexual sensory stimulation that any of us could experience with a variety of objects or human partners.

One last thing. You’ll be pleased to know that by looking into coin kinks, I’ve stumbled across other interesting practices that could be broadly definied as ‘money fetishism’. So if this post whetted your appetite for fiscal fantasies, get ready to bust a nut over some of my upcoming monetary musings…