U.K. to Deport Islamist Radicals, Possibly Even Citizens
Tony Blair has announced that those who advocate violence are going to be subject to deportation, even if it requires changing the UK’s human rights laws.
Foreigners who preach hatred, sponsor violence or belong to extremist groups could be deported from Britain under strict new measures that Prime Minister Tony Blair announced Friday, nearly a month after suicide bombers killed 52 people on London’s transit system. Membership in extremist Islamic groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir would become a crime under the new measures. The group, which advocates the creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia, already is outlawed in several countries.
Blair said the government also would compile a list of Web sites, bookshops and centers that incite hatred and violence. British nationals involved with such organizations could face strict penalties. Foreign nationals could be deported, he said.
“They come here and they play by our rules and our way of life,” Blair said at his monthly news conference. “If they don’t, they are going to have to go.”
The government would hold a one-month consultation on new grounds for excluding and deporting people from the United Kingdom, he said. Britain’s ability to deport foreign nationals has been hampered by human rights legislation. As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Britain is not allowed to deport people to a country where they may face torture or death. The British government has been seeking assurances from several countries Ã¢€” including Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt Ã¢€” for suspects to be protected against inhumane treatment if deported. The government has already reached an agreement with Jordan.
Blair said the government will consult with Muslim leaders on how to close mosques “used as a center for fomenting extremism” and would draw up a list of foreign Islamic clerics “not suitable to preach who will be excluded from Britain.” “We will establish, with the Muslim community, a commission to advise on how, consistent with people’s complete freedom to worship in the way they want, and to follow their own religion and culture, there is better integration of those parts of the community presently inadequately integrated,” Blair said.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, responding to last month’s deadly bombings in London, outlined a series of unprecedented steps that would allow Britain to deport and exclude foreign nationals who promote or incite extremist violence or are “fostering hatred.” Among those excluded would be non-citizen clerics “not suitable to preach.” In addition, Blair said the government was preparing orders allowing the government to shut down places of worship used as centers for “fomenting extremism.” Some of the steps may require legislation or court involvement. Others can be done by government order. Blair acknowledged the potential controversy that could arise from the proposals.
“The rules of the game are changing,” Blair said in an 80-minute news conference devoted almost entirely to the issue of terrorism, which has taken on new urgency in Britain since a July 7 bombing that killed four bombers and 52 other people and injured 700 more. Blair noted that Britain has been generous in hosting asylum seekers and refugees from across the globe, he said that of the game are changing.” “We’re angry about these extremists,” Blair said. “We’re angry about them abusing our good nature and out toleration.” Blair announced that two Islamic organizations, Hizb ut Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun, would be banned in Britain. Leaders of Hizb ut Tahrir, which has also been banned in Germany, have denounced the bombings and asserted that they are non-violent.
Blair said he was not trying to undermine religious tolerance or “legitimate political debate,” but rather he wanted to remove those who are “actively engaged in inciting” people to violence. He denounced as “appalling rubbish” the opinions of those who have supported the bombings as legitimate expression of Muslim anger at the policies of Britain and the United States. Blair said some of the new policies would be implemented immediately while others are under “urgent examination.”
Blair also said the government would:
*Consider stripping citizenship from naturalized Britons “engaged in extremism.”
While the United States has not gone nearly far enough in cracking down on Islamist radicals who incite violence here, this may be going too far. Certainly, if it applies to naturalized citizens it crosses that line. Once someone is a citizen, deportation should not longer be an option. Incarceration, though, is another thing. If one is not free to falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, surely one should not be free to shout “Jihad!” during a war with Islamist radicals.