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May’s anti-terror solutions further normalized Islamophobia in UK: Analyst

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Armed British Metropolitan Police officers carry their guns as they patrol on Whitehall in central London on May 23, 2019, following reports of a suspicious item. (AFP photo)

A senior journalist says various British government schemes on tackling terrorism, specially during the three-year reign of Theresa May as prime minister, have encouraged hate crimes against Muslims in the country.

Edna Mohamed, a columnist writing for the Independent, said on Sunday that increased use of surveillance technologies in the UK over the past years and a government scheme called Prevent, which seeks to prevent radicalization of the youth in Britain, have contributed to the normalization of Islamophobia in the country.

“Those who cannot perform “Britishness”, whatever and however that is supposed to look like, become suspects in the wider state apparatus of control,” said Mohamed in her column published on Independent’s website.

The analyst said that many Muslims and members of other communities have been unfairly targeted under Prevent, a legislation passed in 2011 that expanded under May, both when she was interior minister and when she became prime minister in 2016.

“Rather than protecting people, what Prevent legislation has done, in reality, is drastically change the relationship between Muslims and the state and contained those from this background in a space of pre-crime,” she said.

'British police state'

Mohamed said the increased use of technology for monitoring people’s lives also escalated under May, saying her era as prime minister, which effectively ended on June 7 when she resigned, represented a “golden age” of surveillance in the UK.

"With facial recognition technology making its rounds up and down the country, the cementing of the British police state is becoming harder to ignore," she argued.

Mahamed warned that since there were no laws governing the use of surveillance data, security agencies  could freely use the information against people without ever worrying about legal consequences.

As an example, she referred to the police's use of facial recognition Wales last year to identify peaceful protesters at an anti-arms rally, a move that led to a huge backlash around intrusive surveillance.

She said Conservative lawmakers seeking to replace May have all supported mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities, adding that problems for minorities in the UK would intensify in the future.

“With May now officially out of office, it would be naive to assume that surveillance under any of her predecessors would be anything less than repressive,” said Mohamed.

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