By Muhammad Mussa <br> <br> LONDON (AA) - The government’s counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent, is to undergo an independent review after ministers agreed to address concerns about its impact on British Muslim communities across the U.K., Ben Wallace, the securities minister, announced Tuesday.</p> <p>His announcement came after the government accepted an amendment to its counter-terrorism and border security bill. </p> <p>“I have decided that the time is now right to initiate a review of Prevent. Communities across the country have got behind the policy and are contributing to it because they want, as we do, their own young people to be protected from grooming and exploitation by terrorists,” Wallace told Guardian newspaper. <br>
“Over the last two years the Home Office has built on the solid work of Prevent by releasing annual statistics. They clearly show that Prevent is not about singling out any particular group or ideology but is similar to other forms of safeguarding carried out every day by social workers, teachers and police” he added.
Wallace, however, queried critics of the strategy to “produce solid evidence of their allegations” while at the same time accusing them of using “distortion and spin” to change the meaning of Prevent.
Under the strategy institutions — from schools to hospitals and prisons — are to report those who they deem to be at risk of radicalization to authorities.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have long demaned an independent review, accusing Prevent of erroneously discriminating against Muslim communities and those who express legitimate criticism of the state.
Civil liberties and faith groups argue Prevent is an affront to the legitimate use of freedom of speech and expression and endangers vulnerable Muslim communities that are already exposed to a wide range of social and institutional discrimination.
The Muslim Council of Britain, the umbrella organization representing British Muslims and institutions, has been one such group that has consistently called out the strategy.
“The Muslim Council of Britain today welcomed the acceptance by government to launch an inquiry into the controversial Prevent strategy, which is part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy” the group said in a statement.
“For far too long, the Prevent strategy has affected the lives of innocent families, been criticized for mainstreaming discrimination and lost the trust of communities around the UK” said Secretary-General Harun khan.
“This latest step is crucial for all those who have campaigned for an Independent Review of Prevent. Everyone committed to developing a truly effective strategy for tackling terrorism understands that it must be transparent, accountable and hold the trust of communities” he added.