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Project asking teachers to `spy’ on Muslim teenagers to be re-evaluated


They were to spot teenagers logging on to terrorist websites, or talking about violence

22nd February 2011: Home Office-funded project asking teachers and community leaders to identify children talking about violence — Muslim teenagers included — is to be re-evaluated.
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The £12.5m counter terrorism programme encouraged teachers and community leaders to identify and also report Muslim teenagers and others they suspected were facing the risk of getting involved with extremists.

They were asked to spot individuals, who had not committed any criminal offence, but were logging on to terrorist websites or were often talking about taking part in violent activity.

The programme has failed to find favour with the MPs. In fact, they have all along criticised the project for resulting in accusations on teachers and community leaders being asked to spy on Muslim youths.

The project came into existence way back in April 2007. It was a part of the government’s wider prevent counterterrorism programme.

The first 20 months of its operation saw identification of 228 youth, aged between 15 and 24.  Nearly all male were branded as possible terrorists at risk of radicalization; and were in fact referred to the police.

As a result of the apprehensions regarding "anti-Islamic" philosophy of the project many of the 7,500 schools potentially involved opted out.
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Indications are the ministers are not likely to continue the project in its current form. Professor Ted Cantle, who chairs the Home Office community cohesion review team, rather made it clear to the Times Educational Supplement that it was unlikely for the ministers to carry on project the way it is

In all probability, counter-terrorist work and efforts of schools to integrate communities will be separated. Cantle expressed hope the present government would not make the same mistakes which alienated communities," he said.

He elaborated the identification of children at risk of terrorism would not continue. It has caused an awful lot of trouble, as most teachers don’t have an in-depth understanding of Muslim communities."

The Home Office, on the other hand, said there were no plans to abolish the Channel Project. They believe the prevent programme was not working as well as it could and that was why they were reviewing it. They, rather, wanted a strategy that was effective and properly focused.

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