Crackdown will produce martyrs, Clarke is told

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Indy Politics

The Home Secretary set out a series of "unacceptable behaviours" yesterday that would be used to exclude foreign extremists from Britain and remove those already in the country. They include "fomenting, justifying or glorifying" terrorism, although he has dropped an earlier proposal to outlaw views "the Government considers to be extreme and that conflict with the UK's culture of tolerance".

The list of criteria foreshadows a new wave of expulsions from Britain under powers announced by Mr Clarke last month. He said yesterday: "The terrorist threat facing the UK remains real and significant and it is right the Government and law enforcement agencies do everything possible to counter it."

He won backing from the main opposition parties, but provoked alarm among Muslim leaders. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Sending [extremists] out may turn them into unwanted heroes who may then be free to export their vile thoughts, if such be the case, from exile." The Islamic Human Rights Commission said the plans were a "criminalisation of thought", adding: "The proposals do nothing but unleash further Islamophobia in British society."

Ian Macdonald, who resigned from the Special Immigration Appeal Court over anti-terrorism legislation, said the new criteria could make it even harder to remove suspected extremists and create a "field day for lawyers" . He told the BBC: "The Secretary of State would have been far better off sticking with powers which he has because these don't add to his powers ... They really aren't clear."

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, also accused the Government of trying to circumvent its duty not to deport people to countries where they could face torture or abuse. His comments drew a furious response from Mr Clarke, who said: "The human rights of those people who were blown up on the Tube in London on 7 July are, to be quite frank, more important than the human rights of the people who committed those acts." He said that the list of "unacceptable behaviours" would send a powerful deterrent message to extremists.

Asked whether some people could be excluded from Britain by the end of this week or the beginning of next week, Mr Clarke said: "I expect so."

The security services have drawn up a list of foreign-born extremists they want expelled, while British embassies are compiling a list of radicals they believe should be barred from this country.