Dr Adnan Siddiqui told RT the policy is “toxic” and “overwhelmingly” targets Muslims and their beliefs.
“Across the board Prevent is acknowledged as a deeply toxic policy. This has been echoed by hundreds of academics, politicians who’ve called for the policy to be scrapped, trade unions and student bodies.
“Additionally, the policy has been accused of fueling extremism by the former UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.”
The director of the advocacy group was responding to a BBC interview with the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command’s Dean Haydon, who said criticism of the “fantastic” strategy stems from “ignorance.”
“Some of the criticisms come from sections of the community that, for a variety of different reasons, political or otherwise, just don’t want Prevent to work in the first place,” he told the BBC Asian Network.
The comments come after the UK’s terrorism watchdog called for a review of the counter-radicalization strategy amid fears it is sowing mistrust among the British Muslim community.
The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, said the strategy is “ineffective or being applied in an insensitive or discriminatory manner.”
Haydon insisted the scheme does not discriminate against Muslims.
“Prevent is not just about the Muslim community. It goes across all communities,” he said.
The Prevent strategy was first implemented by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2003 to tackle radicalization, but its scope was widened by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2011.
The strategy, which is thought to cost the UK around £40 million (US$52 million) a year, aims to support and identify those at risk of being radicalized in environments such as schools, faith organizations and prisons.
Although the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) generally refrains from collecting information regarding the religion of those referred under the Prevent scheme, it found that in 2015 a majority (1,394) of those referred identified as Muslim.
That is in contrast with 139 who identified as Christian, 12 as Sikh, five as Buddhist, four as Hindu and three as Jewish.