Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Blair Is Seeking to Curb Radicals Who Preach Hate

New York Times

By ALAN COWELL
Published: August 6, 2005

LONDON, Aug. 5 - Prime Minister Tony Blair promised new measures on Friday to close down mosques and bar or deport clerics deemed to be fostering hatred and violence, bringing Britain's antiterrorism policy more into line with some of its neighbors' and answering critics who say the country has sheltered Islamic extremists for years.

He also said two Islamic organizations would be banned. A global list would be drawn up of people "whose activities or views pose a threat to Britain's security," and they would be kept out of Britain.

"Let no one be in any doubt," he said at a news conference. "The rules of the game are changing."

Mr. Blair's announcement was immediately condemned by Muslim groups here, who warned that the moves would be seen as "dangerous" and discriminatory, driving Muslim radicals underground just weeks after July 7, when four bombers attacked London's transportation system and killed 56 people, including themselves. A second attack followed on July 21 but caused no casualties.

The changes, which will require Parliament's approval, strike a harsher note in the continuing debate here about the balance between civil liberties and national security. They seem to nudge Britain toward policies adopted by the United States - and widely criticized by leaders here - after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Mr. Blair warned that Britain would amend its human rights legislation, if necessary, to enable the authorities to deport foreigners to lands with questionable human rights records - a step forbidden under the European Human Rights Convention.

The new measures take aim for the first time at Islamic Web sites and bookstores that are considered extremist and at "networks and particular organizations of concern." In addition, Mr. Blair said that any foreigners in Britain in "active engagement" with those sites or groups would be considered for deportation. He did not say how Britain would define the term extremist.

"We will consult on a new power to order closure of a place of worship which is used as a center for fomenting extremism and will consult with Muslim leaders in respect of those clerics who are not British citizens, to draw up a list of those not suitable to preach who will be excluded from Britain," Mr. Blair said.

He mentioned two groups that would be banned: Hizb ut-Tahrir, which says it supports a nonviolent campaign to restore the Islamic caliphate; and successor groups to Al Muhajiroun, which had made a point of praising the Sept. 11 hijackers before disbanding last year.

He also promised broader use of so-called control orders, which civil rights activists regard as a form of house arrest imposed without formal charges being placed.

Mr. Blair suggested that the new deportation powers would bring Britain into line with the procedures prevalent among some of its critics - notably France - which have said that terrorists have been given free rein here to plot attacks. "France and Spain, to name just two other European countries, do deport by administrative decision. The effect is often immediate," he said.

The threatened measures drew strong protests from Islamic groups.

Imran Waheed, a spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, said the move to outlaw it would cause "serious repercussions" among British Muslims and "will be seen by the Muslim community as stifling legitimate political dissent."

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said Muslims "will think it is a war against political Islam. This is a very dangerous signal from the government."

The mainstream Muslim Council of Britain also assailed Mr. Blair's announcement, saying that "if there are groups that are thought to be contravening our laws, then they ought to be prosecuted in the courts, not driven underground."

Shami Chakrabati, the director of Liberty, a civil rights group, said the proposals showed "a clear lack of respect for some of the most fundamental values in our democracy."

Other countries that have criticized Britain's policies have specifically singled out Islamic groups and figures like Al Muhajiroun and its leader, the Syrian-born Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed.

Additionally, clerics like Abu Qatada, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, and Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was born in Egypt, were free to preach here. Places of worship like the Finsbury Park mosque were held to be centers of Islamic subversion used by terrorists including the so-called shoe-bomber Richard C. Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man charged in America in connection with the attacks of Sept. 11.

In recent months, some of those clerics have been jailed or restricted. Mr. Masri faces possible extradition to the United States, and Mr. Qatada is under a form of house arrest.

The measures announced by Mr. Blair are in addition to previously announced plans to introduce legislation later this year making it an offense to glorify, prepare for or incite acts of terrorism. Mr. Blair made clear on Friday that the law would include such acts committed outside Britain, suggesting that threats against the United States and Britain ascribed on Thursday to Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's deputy in Al Qaeda, would become a formal offense under British law.

Mr. Blair said he was ready to recall Parliament from its summer recess if necessary to accelerate the harsher controls.

On Friday, the smaller of Britain's two main opposition parties, the Liberal Democrats, registered its "alarm" at the new proposals. Leaders of the Conservatives said they would not comment until seeing the entire text of the government's proposal.

Over the past few months, the country's highest court and the House of Lords have resisted some parts of Mr. Blair's earlier antiterrorism proposals, arguing that some of the provisions violated suspects' civil rights. But the announcement of the latest measures suggested that Mr. Blair felt Britons would now support sterner policies.

"For obvious reasons, the mood now is different," Mr. Blair said. "People do not talk of scaremongering."

In a 12-point list of measures, Mr. Blair said Britain planned as of Friday to broaden the grounds for deportation to include "fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs or justifying or validating such violence."

Previously, European human rights laws prevented Britain from deporting people to nations where they might face torture or the death sentence. But under the new proposal, Britain would deport people to countries that offer assurances that no such abuse will happen. Jordan has already given an assurance, Mr. Blair said, and he has held "very constructive" talks with the leaders of Algeria and Lebanon on similar commitments.

While Britain already has powers to revoke the British nationality of people with dual citizenship, "we will now consult on extending these, applying them to naturalized citizens engaged in extremism and making the procedures simpler and more effective," he said.

Several of the main suspects in the July 21 bombing attempts are naturalized Britons whose parents were born in the Horn of Africa. Since July 21, the police have arrested 39 people, of whom 3 have been indicted with terrorism-related offenses and 14 remain in police custody. A further suspect, Hussein Osman, also known as Hamdi Issac, is under arrest in Rome, where he fled after the bombing attempts.

His wife, Yeshiemebet Girma, 29, and sister-in-law, Mulumubet Girma, 21, appeared before Bow Magistrate's Court on Friday charged with failing to disclose information about him. The family is from Ethiopia.

The Metropolitan Police said Friday that it had charged three other people - Shadi Sami Abdel Gadir, 22, and Omar Almagboul, 20, of Brighton; and Mohamed Kabashi, 23, with no listed residence - with withholding information about a terrorist suspect, The Associated Press reported.

"Coming to Britain is not a right," Mr. Blair said. "And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty. 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."

"This is not in any way whatever aimed at the decent, law-abiding Muslim community of Britain," Mr. Blair said. "We know that this fringe of extremists does not truly represent Islam."

Australia to Weigh Antiterror Laws

By The New York Times

In the wake of the London bombings, Australia needs to consider new counterterrorism measures, including laws to deport radical Islamic clerics and crack down on extremists who incite violence, Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday.

"I don't want to overestimate or overstate the challenge we face, but, equally, those who imagine that it can't happen here are misplaced," he said.

Mr. Howard has been steadfast in his support for the Bush administration in Iraq, and Australian officials have said this increases the possibility of an attack against Australia, either abroad or at home.

About 60 men who are believed to have trained at Qaeda camps in Afghanistan are in Australia legally, according to police and intelligence officials, and they are closely watched. Of greater concern, they say, is the possibility of sleeper cells of men who trained in Pakistan.

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