A Muslim survivor of 7/7 bombing calls for new...
Sajda Mughal OBE told British newspaper Metro on the 16th anniversary of the London bombings that she is dismayed at the government’s controversial Prevent strategy, which outlines the approach for countering radicalization and extremism.
A review of Prevent is being boycotted by more than 450 Islamic organizations who say that the program has curtailed freedom of speech, removed people’s civil liberties and criminalized communities. The review is being conducted by William Shawcross, who has expressed Islamophobic views in the past, and the organizations say that he is unfit to be a neutral and fair assessor of the policy.
The JAN charity leader believes nothing has changed to improve people’s safety since the day four suicide bombers detonated devices on the capital’s transport network, killing 56 people and injuring hundreds more. “Having survived 7/7 and left the corporate world I’ve made my own differences on the ground in terms of the work I’ve been doing with communities but I have to say our Government hasn’t done enough, particularly with the rise of far-right extremism and the division and hate in society.” She said. “If the Government had worked quicker, we wouldn’t have had the rise of hate crime and Islamophobia. I don’t believe the agencies such as the Government and the police have a joined-up and consistent approach. There needs to be a complete shake-up of the whole counter-terrorism strategy in order to make the UK a harmonious place.”
Plots involving extreme far-right groups grew from 6% in 2014 to 10% in 2020 out of the total caseload of UK counter-terror police. In the meantime, the Prevent programme has been dogged by accusations that it criminalises and stigmatises those it seeks to protect, such an 11-year-old boy referred to the programme after a teacher mistook the word ‘alms’ for ‘arms’.
Sajda, who has previously worked with the Home Office, said: ‘We’ve had Prevent for 16 years and finally it’s being reviewed, but as someone who’s worked previously with Prevent, I have no faith in the current review, it’s a tick-box exercise. Prevent is not fit for purpose, you only have to look at it statistically in terms of the numbers of attacks and complaints.
The head of MI5 warned in October 2020 that violent right-wing extremism is a major threat facing the the UK, with more than a quarter of serious terrorist attacks stopped in the final stages linked to neo-fascist and racist groups.
"I hear from those on the ground, particularly within the Muslim community, that bullying has increased in schools and women have suffered in parks with dogs being set upon them. I feel we’ve moved from the tolerant, harmonious UK that I grew up in as a child to a very dark place and the Government and narrative from politicians hasn’t helped at all." Said Sajda. "Even though 16 years sounds like a long time I remember it as if it was yesterday and I still have nightmares as the anniversary approaches. It’s a difficult time as I reflect back on the experience I had that day and what I saw in terms of that near-death experience; I saw people who had been injured and the bodies being brought out."
In London's Hyde Park, 52 stainless steel pillars stand together in four clusters in the southeastern corner of the 350-acre site. Each of the pillars represents one person who died, while each cluster symbolises one of the four locations where the bombs went off on July 7, 2005. The terrorist bombing of three Underground stations and a double-decker bus constituted the worst attack on London since World War II, and remains the worst individual terrorist barbarity Britain has known. As well as those killed, several hundred more people were injured and many remain maimed for life. The four bombers also died. The four used easily available materials to make their bombs.