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Counter-terrorism strategy should not just focus on Muslims, says Corbyn

The Government's Prevent strategy should be broadened and focus on all communities to stop Muslims feeling singled out, Jeremy Corbyn has suggested.

The Labour leader said the counter-terrorism strategy is "often counter-productive" and casts "suspicion" over the whole Muslim community in the UK.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn insisted that Labour is ready for an early general election should Prime Minister Theresa May decide to pursue one.

Speaking to ITV's Peston On Sunday programme in the wake of Wednesday's London terror attack, Mr Corbyn suggested the Government's deradicalisation programme needed to be reformed.

He said: "I talk to people in the Muslim community, I talk to people in mosques, I talk to people in churches, I talk to people that go to synagogues, all kinds of different faiths and different groups.

"I think what Prevent has often done is seen to target the Muslim community, not anybody else, looks to say there is a kind of suspicion over the whole community and it's actually often counter-productive."

He continued: "Deal with the issue of far right extremism within our society, deal with the issue of racism in our society, deal with the issues of discrimination within our society, deal with the issues of the perceptions of stop and search within our society, above all be inclusive of people and what Prevent does, it says 'hang on, let's look at only the Muslim community'."

When pushed on exactly what he believed needed to change, he said: "I'm saying broaden it into an agenda of inclusion."

"Focus it on all communities," he said.

On the possibility of an early general election being called by Mrs May, Mr Corbyn said Labour is ready and would not block a Government bid to repeal the Fixed-term Parliament Act which would allow a poll to take place before 2020.

He said: "We are developing our policies but clearly if an election is called we can bring all that forward and we are ready, yes."

He added: "It wouldn't be just us actually because it (repealing the Fixed-term Parliament Act) requires two thirds of all MPs to vote for it.

"We would not block it, of course not, because if that's what is on offer, I don't know if that's in her mind or not.

"She certainly hasn't discussed it with me."

Mr Corbyn was also grilled on whether he would back a second referendum on Scottish independence.

He said he does not believe a second referendum is a good idea but that if the Scottish Parliament calls for one Westminster should not block it.

He said: "If that is what the Scottish Parliament wants then I think that it would be wrong for Westminster to say to Scotland 'well we gave you this devolution but sorry, this is where it stops'."

When asked if that meant he would back another referendum on independence, he said: "The principle of having it, yes, of course. One has to discuss the questions of timing and the date of it."

Security Minister Ben Wallace said Prevent is working but it could be more transparent.

He told ITV's Peston On Sunday programme: "I think what we can do, and we are working towards, is be more transparent about it.

"I think when people see the figures, which we are hoping to be able to provide soon, people will realise that Prevent is working."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Prevent needs to be better sold to communities where it is in place.

She told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "Prevent does extremely good work.

"I've been myself, I went and saw a mother recently in Leicester whose son had just left out of the blue to fight in Syria and she appealed to Prevent coordinators to help her and other members of her family.

"The Prevent programme stopped 150 people, of which 50 were children, last year from going to Syria.

"They do really good work, they (are) usually stimulated and run by communities so it's not something that's done to communities.

"But I do recognise that we need to do better to sell it to communities, and I'm going to be looking at what more we can do there to tell these stories so that people realise that Prevent is, above all, a safeguarding programme to protect young people from becoming radicalised."


From Belfast Telegraph