Tory councillor says political correctness undermining anti-extremist Prevent Program

Tory councillor says political correctness undermining anti-extremist Prevent Program
Charnwood Borough councillor Paul Mercer has lashed out at the Prevent Program for including far-right extremists, which he says takes the focus away from Islam. He calls it ‘political correctness gone mad.’

In his personal blog, Paul Mercer – Conservative councillor for Loughborough Southfields – took aim at the anti-terrorism program, questioning whether or not animal rights activists and far-right extremists who incite violence should be ‘lumped’ in with Al-Qaeda.

“There are many unsavoury and extreme individuals prone to violence amongst the far-right as indeed there are some amongst animal rights, environmental and many other different political movements in the UK. Is this a reason to lump them all together with Al Qaeda and regard them all as ‘terrorists?’” Mercer said.

Prevent, which aims to tackle extremism in all forms, has previously faced heat from the public and Muslim communities for focusing too much on Islam. Now, Mercer insists that the focus is more on the far-right, even though – according to his numbers – they make up a minuscule percentage when compared to Islamic terrorism.

“Since 2005, 117 people have died from terrorist incidents in the United Kingdom,” Mercer said.

“Of these, 82.1 per cent were carried out by Islamic extremists, 15.4 per cent were in Northern Ireland and 2.5 per cent were by white extremists. Of the three white extremist attacks, in 2013, 2016 and 2017, all were individuals with mental health issues rather than by active members of far-right groups.”

Mercer’s argument went on to slam the Prevent training course, which he attended in his role as a councillor and “community safety officer”. Mercer said he had been trained to keep an eye out for signs to tackle terrorism and domestic extremism… but there was not one reference to Islamist terrorism.

“Since it was introduced, the Prevent programme has been criticised for focusing on Islamist extremists which, given that they have been responsible for 96.9 percent of mainland terrorist deaths, seems to be a reasonable assumption,” he said.

“What appears to be happening is that for reasons of political correctness the Home Office has subtly extended Prevent’s remit to cover far more groups, many of which are clearly not engaged in violent protest let alone terrorism.”

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