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Britain Unveils New Measures Against Islamic Extremists

Britain has announced a list of what it calls "unacceptable behaviors" in support of terrorism that could lead to the deportation or banishment of foreign-born Muslim clerics.

The list published by the Home Office applies to anyone who is not British and who foments, justifies or glorifies terrorist violence through the written or spoken word.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke says he needs the power to expel or bar radical Islamic preachers in the aftermath of the July 7 terrorist attacks that killed 52 London commuters and four suicide bombers.

"I have an obligation in particular to stop people coming into this country who could get young people in particular to behave in the kind of appalling way we saw in July," he said. "We want to ensure that those who foment, justify, glorify terrorism are not able to be in this country."

Mr. Clarke says the special powers are not intended to stifle free speech or legitimate debate about religion or other issues. But he says they are required because the terrorist threat remains real and significant.

The Clarke announcement is drawing mostly favorable reviews from British political leaders, though some human rights activists and Muslim community officials say they fear the power could be abused.

"Try to imagine how you will have a discussion about terrorism with one side on the pro and one side on the con, and one side trying to offer explanations for terrorism," said Eric Metcalf, director of the legal rights organization, Justice. "What can seem like explanation from one person can very easily sound like justification to someone else."

The director the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Asghar Bukhari, told British television he wonders if Mr. Clarke will use the power only against foreigners who advocate attacks on Britain, or also against those who support Palestinian suicide bombings inside Israel.

"How on earth do you expect any Muslim to say that those who are being oppressed have no right to resist? And what does he consider as terrorism? Is the Israeli state terrorizing the Palestinians, or are the Palestinians terrorizing only the Israelis? What we don't want is laws that are going to alienate virtually every single Muslim in this country," he said.

The Clarke announcement follows an order earlier this month to deport 10 foreigners detained as suspected national security threats. Those cases are now under legal appeal.

Britain also has barred the re-entry of Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian-born Muslim cleric and long-time London resident who left Britain after telling an interviewer he would not inform police if he learned of another Muslim bombing plot.