Universities play an important role in public life not just as educational institutions but as an arena of political participation and civil society engagement.
Drawing on findings from a multi-site ethnography, this paper demonstrates how the introduction of the Prevent duty has undermined Muslim civil society participation in UK universities.
Under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015) it has become a statutory duty for UK universities to pay due regard to ‘prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. The introduction of this policy has created political opportunities for the mobilisations of social movements who have targeted Muslim student activism and religious practice on campus. These social movements are comprised of a number of think tanks and civil society organisations which collaborate with governmental actors within and without the university arena to deliver and develop counter terrorism initiatives.
In this paper, I argue that these social movements act as ‘para-statal agencies’. The relatively autonomous nature of these actors means that they are able to evade the (albeit limited) range of official forms of scrutiny of their actions.
The impact of their involvement in counter terrorism delivery at universities has increased Islamophobia and political repression of Muslims on campus.