mullenpf at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 24 09:37:02 PDT 2005
In a move that sparked sharp criticism from civil rights groups, the government released a list of unacceptable activities which would trigger deportation or an entry ban.
"The terrorist threat facing the UK remains real and significant and it is right that the government and law enforcement agencies do everything possible to counter it," said Interior Minister Charles Clarke.
"That includes tackling those who seek to foster hatred or promote terrorism, sending a strong message that they are not welcome in the UK."
Two waves of bomb attacks in London which killed 52 commuters last month prompted a series of new anti-terrorism measures and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair says the "rules of the game are changing."
The list of activities deemed unacceptable, which covers non-UK citizens in Britain or abroad, includes expressing opinions which "foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence" or seeking to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.
The government said the guidelines, which take immediate effect, applied to views conveyed through written or published material, including Web sites, as well as public speaking.
"The proposals do nothing but unleash further Islamophobia in British society," said the Islamic Human Rights Commission, saying the plans represented a "criminalisation of thought."
Britain is home to 1.6 million Muslims, just under three percent of the population. About two thirds of British Muslims hail from the Indian subcontinent.
Some experts say Blair is belatedly responding to criticism that Britain's tradition of granting asylum to Middle East dissidents, a practice that earned London the tag "Londonistan," has helped foster a dangerously radical Islamist scene.
"There's an element of this which is to prove to the British public that the government is taking it very seriously," said Michael Clarke of London's Center for Defense Studies.
He said the criteria would not stop determined bombers and that he expected deportees to challenge the new plans in court.
Rights groups opposed the review of government powers.
"The vagueness and breadth of the definition of "unacceptable behavior" and "terrorism" can lead to further injustice and risk further undermining human rights protection in the UK," said Halya Gowan of Amnesty International.
Civil rights group Liberty attacked any move that would lead to suspects being sent to countries with a record of torture.
Earlier this month, Britain pledged to deport 10 people, including the suspected spiritual leader of al Qaeda in Europe, Jordanian national Abu Qatada.
Britain is working on agreements with a number of countries which it says will protect any deportees from ill treatment.
Department of Political Science
Florida International University
mullenpf at earthlink.net
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