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StWC Statement on War, Racism and Islamophobia Meeting in Luton

Bedfordshire Police have used intimidatory tactics to force a venue to cancel a Stop the War event, supported by CAGE, challenging PREVENT

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POLICE PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS TO SILENCE DISSENT AND HALT ANTI-PREVENT PUBLIC MEETING

Bedfordshire Police have used fear mongering and intimidatory tactics to force a confirmed venue to cancel a Stop the War event, supported by CAGE, challenging PREVENT.

Stop The War and CAGE have been an active voice for many years speaking out against state abuse, calling for the law to be observed fairly and campaigning against measures that have stemmed from the War on Terror leading to infringements of human rights.

Both organisations have campaigned against the PREVENT strategy, which is regarded by most as toxic and racist. As such, both groups view PREVENT as counter-productive and have held numerous events up and down the country to open up the policy to public scrutiny.

The event, which was entitled, Failed: War, Racism and Islamophobia was due to have taken place on January 11th. Instead, Bedfordshire police applied bullying and intimidation to pressure a local venue that was due to host the event into cancelling.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

"We are deeply concerned that Bedfordshire Police betrayed the fundamental principles of policing by consent. The force went to extraordinary lengths using "Stasi" secret police tactics to ban a lawful event from taking place. This incident is a wake up call to all decent people in Luton and beyond that we must stand firm against unpopular and racist policies. Bedfordshire Police and its Prevent team have tarnished the reputation of the police as an independent force that can be trusted by the community."

"When approached to give examples of events run by CAGE and Stop the War that had resulted incidents that threatened community cohesion, the police did not respond. This is because such incidents have never occurred, meaning the police used this as a threat."

Maz Saleem, spokesperson for Stop the War, said:

"Both organisations have jointly and individually shared platforms on many occasions on the topic of PREVENT and other related issues with many mainstream speakers at local and national level often resulting in healthy, productive and much needed debate around the issue."

"Despite the bullying tactics of police, we will resist any attempt to censor our message. Prevent and Islamophobia are topics of concern to many people in this country and as such require public debate and scrutiny. We call on all our supporters to join us in resisting the government's repeated attempts to stifle our voices."

The public meeting will go ahead and is now due to take place on Wednesday 7th Feb at 7pm at the Luton Hall, 56 Old Bedford Road, Luton, LU2 7PA.