'A counterterrorism strategy has created a “culture of fear” across UK universities where freedom of expression and open debate is being stifled, experts and campaigners warn.
The government’s Prevent duty, which requires institutions to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, is having a “chilling effect” on free speech on campus, critics say.
The warnings come as The Independent has learned that at least four different academic materials have been flagged at a university over the past two years in response to the counterextremism programme.
Under a University of Reading policy, students and staff are required to tell the institution if they plan to access texts that are potentially “sensitive” to avoid falling foul of Prevent.
So far, academics have requested student access for a left-wing essay on the ethics of socialist revolution, as well as access to the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla by a Brazilian revolutionary.
A student also logged their use of YouTube videos that support Palestinian political violence, while an academic requested access to terrorism databases for research.
The Independent has learned that staff at Glasgow School of Art discussed flagging up a students’ artwork on the geopolitics of the Middle East to the Prevent team.
The student had planned to give audience members warnings to the explicit content – which featured two Isis propaganda videos – but the school ruled that the installation could not be exhibited in full.
Meanwhile, a number of academics have been told by those working on Prevent that they cannot use certain books to teach about Islam.
Milestones, a book by Sayyid Qutb, a key figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, is one of the texts that tutors have been ordered not to use because it will “encourage radicalisation.”'
Read more: Government’s counterterrorism is limiting texts and topics students can access, experts say
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