From when India’s Olympians refused to salute Hitler to the shameful final grievance of the Declaration of Independence, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
SOAS, University of London
I have reluctantly forborne to point out that during the war when Egypt was a Protectorate the Home Office used to treat Egyptians as alien extremists.
– Sir Robert Allason Furness, Oriental Secretary in Egypt, 1922 
12 February 2020 marks the five-year anniversary of the UK Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The bill – one in a series of acts passed since the Terrorism Act 2000 – was described as giving the UK ‘some of the toughest powers in the world to tackle the increasing threat from international terrorism.’ At the time it was condemned for providing the police with powers that were consequently exercised in an ‘overly-broad, discriminatory and ineffective manner.’
The Act introduced PREVENT, which places a statutory duty on public bodies to work with the police and local authorities to help prevent ‘vulnerable’ people from being drawn into terrorism. As reports and cases have shown, PREVENT works on a racialised and arbitrary logic which results in Muslim communities being suspected. In 2018 for example, a six-year-old child was referred to PREVENT for comments he had learned from the television programme ‘Horrible Histories’. The process caused great distress for the whole family. Wide powers such as these have been attributed in part to the definition of terrorism in the UK Terrorism Act 2000 being ‘one of the broadest in the world.’
The elasticity of the terms ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ of course did not appear with 9/11 or 7/7. Rather, they have a long historical use by imperial states justifying violence against anti-colonial resistance. Cases of British martial law and blacklisting in Egypt in the years surrounding the First World War illustrate the historical racialised and wide-reaching constructions of ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ underpinning contemporary British counter-terrorism legislation. Continue reading “From martial law to counter-terrorism law: lessons from British colonialism in Egypt”