This article considers the relationship between (mis)recognition, inequality and social activism through the lens of young Muslims’ response to their positioning as ‘suspect communities’. It draws on qualitative empirical research to suggest that the institutionalisation of misrecognition, including through the preventative (‘Prevent’) arm of UK counter-terrorism strategy, may mobilise young Muslims to resist ‘suspect’ status and make claims to the right to equal esteem. This forms part of the motivation towards social activism that mitigates the harm inflicted by misrecognition. However, the particular historical and cultural form of the institutionalisation of misrecognition, which renders ‘preventing Prevent’ a priority for young Muslims, may compound their status subordination. Drawing on critiques of the politics of recognition, and contextualising findings in debates on racism, anti-Muslim attitudes and societal securitisation, the article concludes that fighting misrecognition with recognition politics mis-places the role of power in subject formation and constrains young Muslims’ political agency.