Muslims in Greater Manchester fear persecution according to new report

The report was prompted by the Manchester Arena Bomb Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

Muslims in Greater Manchester are living in fear of persecution according to a new report.

The report was ordered by the city region mayor Andy Burnham in the wake of the Arena bombing.

It found that lack of information about the Government's 'Prevent' anti terror strategy was fuelling the fears.

But the report did find that 'Prevent' was working well.

Most people agreed that the safeguarding principles that underpin Prevent are correct.

However, there is a perpetuating cycle of lack of information available to communities regarding Prevent and circulation of inaccurate information. This leads to fear developing within communities.

It was strongly felt that the positive work going on across Greater Manchester was not being appropriately disseminated into communities, where high levels of distrust and suspicion of statutory agencies continues to exist.

It was felt that the lack of information was exploited by those with an anti-Prevent or anti-Islam agenda who maliciously miscommunicated the aims of Prevent or true nature of the issue without evidence to support their claims.

Organisations and individuals found it difficult to challenge this narrative without statistics to refute the claims. This has perpetuated the problem, leading to the creation of suspect communities and fear of persecution amongst Muslim communities.

From the people that were involved in the commission's engagement, there was a strong feeling from the members of the Muslim community that Prevent targets Muslim communities and that this was a genuine fear felt by Greater Manchester Muslims.

– Preventing Hateful Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion

If the perception of the Prevent strategy is different from the reality, then that can be exploited by those seeking to undermine any form of counter-terrorism strategy.

Therefore we accept the need, as identified in the report, to provide more information about Prevent. Any counter-terrorism strategy needs to be localised, have community buy-in and be seen to be fair to all communities rather than appearing to target one.

– Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester