- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005

British Home Secretary Charles Clarke is defending his country’s efforts to crack down on terrorism by tightening certain laws, even at the expense of traditional civil liberties.

“The right to be protected from the death and destruction caused by indiscriminate terrorism is at least as important as the right of a terrorist to be free of torture and ill treatment,” Mr. Clarke told the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.

“We cannot fight terrorism with one legal hand tied behind our back. In the wake of the July 7 and July 21 bombings that killed 52 in London, the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair is under pressure at home to take a hard line on Muslims in Britain suspected of participating in, supporting or encouraging Islamic extremism,” he said.

Mr. Clarke also met yesterday with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to discuss the global fight against terrorism and agreed to enhance their cooperation on that front.

“We are working together to have a common picture of the way we can best address the issue of preparedness across the board and prevention,” Mr. Chertoff said.

Mr. Clarke, the senior minister responsible for prosecuting the war on terrorism within Britain, discussed several proposed measures at Heritage, including a way to expedite deportation of noncitizens deemed dangerous, a ban on certain types of speech, and inclusion of biometric identification data in passports and driver’s licenses.

“We believe it is right that certain forms of free speech should not be permitted, for example, inciting racial hatred or religious hatred. We have the right to nip hatred in the bud,” he said.

Mr. Clarke defended Britain’s record on religious, ethnic and racial diversity, saying that British economic success was based on the country’s diversity, “all within the common framework of our common values.”

He said there could be no negotiation with Islamic militants, that democratic societies had to “contest and defeat them” because they were ideologically committed to the destruction of such societies, which are based on “true respect for one individual for another, of one culture for another, of one faith for another, of one race for another.”

The European Court of Justice has criticized the British deportation proposal, citing fears that those returned may be tortured by their home countries.

Britain is pursuing bilateral agreements with several Arab nations to protect its deported Muslim preachers from being tortured.

On Tuesday, Mr. Clarke was in New York to meet with officials of the United Nations.

Mr. Clarke said he told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Britain deserved U.N. support, rather than criticism, for the plan.

“I think a lot of the human rights debate has been addressed in a very narrow way, in terms of people’s rights in the legal system. But people also have a right not to be blown up in the subway,” he said.

According to British press reports yesterday, the government of Mr. Blair has agreed to ease some of its proposed restrictions targeting militant Muslim preachers.

For example, it would not be a criminal offense to praise terrorist attacks. Authorities would have to prove that the glorification of terrorism was meant to incite attacks.

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