Blair Seeking Law To Deport Radical Foreigners

    By SHELLEY EMLING LONDON – Almost a month after suicide bombers killed 52 people on London’s transit system, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday Britain will move to deport foreigners who spout hatred, sponsor violence, or belong to radical groups. Using strong language, Blair announced plans for anti-terrorist legislation this fall that will tighten the country’s longtime policy of hosting foreign extremists, which has earned London the nickname “Londonistan.” “Coming to Britain is not a right. And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty,” Blair said at his monthly news conference. “That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life. “Those that break that duty and try to incite hatred or engage in violence against our country and its people have no place here,” he said. Blair said a list of extremist Web sites, bookshops, centers, networks, and particular organizations of concern would be drawn up, and that foreign nationals involved in them may be deported. Those who have participated in terrorist activity would automatically be denied asylum. In a particularly controversial move, Blair said the new legislation would make membership in extremist Islamic groups a crime. He cited Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a movement that sprouted in the Middle East during the 1950s and which has called for the creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia. The group’s spokesman, Imran Waheed, called the organization a nonviolent political party and said it would fight any move to ban it in the courts. Blair also said he was prepared to amend human rights legislation if necessary in order to make the deportation of those involved in inciting terrorism “more straightforward.” He also said that citizenship rules already requiring those seeking British citizenship to swear allegiance to the country would be reviewed to see if changes were needed. The foreign Muslims who might face deportation under the new measures could include some of Britain’s best-known Islamic clerics. Blair pledged to include Muslim leaders on a commission that would help shape the new legislation. But his statements still prompted the mainstream Muslim Council of Britain to react with “concern and alarm.” “Banning Hizb-ut-Tahrir is certainly not the solution, and may well prove to be counterproductive,” said Iqbal Sacranie, the council’s secretary-general. “We understand that Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the United Kingdom are an avowedly nonviolent group. “If there are groups thought to be contravening our laws, then they ought to be prosecuted in courts of law, not driven underground,” he said. Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty, also expressed disappointment in Blair’s plans. “Shuffling people off around the globe is not an answer to national or world security,” she told BBC’s Radio 4. But Blair’s tough stance is sure to please critics who have long blasted Britain’s lax attitudes towards housing those who stir violence. In a recent editorial, the Daily Mail newspaper said that “the British state has taken an inexcusably relaxed attitude towards extreme Muslim sects and preachers, the worst of whom are anti-Semitic and homophobic and sympathetic to violence.” Other European countries have not been so tolerant. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, for example, has wasted no time since the July 7 terrorist bombings in weeding out those who preach anti-Western hatred. France announced earlier this week that it would expel two radical Islamist leaders and plans to send home up to two dozen more by the end of August. Now it appears that Britain is set to follow suit. Blair pointed out that steps to tighten anti-terrorism legislation have met with fierce opposition in the past. “But, for obvious reasons, the mood now is different,” he said. “The country knows the purpose of terrorism is to intimidate and it is not inclined to be intimidated.” Indeed, many Britons applauded the hard-line stance. “I think (deportation) is a reasonable price to pay if someone has talked out against their country and incited others to act violently,” said Karen Pollock, a market researcher. “People who want to do harm need to be punished.”

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