Blair: Crackdown on extremists 'overdue'

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The resolution would give UN backing to Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, who has been accused by radical Muslims of being an American puppet.

Mr Blair said he also hoped the resolution would help Egypt's efforts to root out terrorism following the Sharm-el-Sheikh bombings which killed 88 people and injured 200 more. "This is long overdue," said Mr Blair. "What it will do is send a very strong signal and it will strengthen the leadership of those countries like Pakistan who are taking tough action now to deal with the roots of this problem which is the teaching of this fanatical and extremist ideology to young people. There is a broad degree of support because virtually every country across the world is suffering from this."

But the measures against incitement could draw the Security Council into a wider row over freedom of speech. In a warning that broadcasters might face curbs, Mr Blair said that "freedom of speech ends" when people call on others to commit acts of terrorism.

Sky News angered No 10 yesterday by broadcasting an interview from Lebanon with Omar Bakri Mohammed in which the banned Muslim cleric accused the Government of cracking down on "preachers of hate" to deflect attention from a failure of policing over the July 7 suicide attacks in London.

Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite station, could also fall foul of the proposed resolution. Last week it broadcast a video of Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the London bombers, justifying his attack. If such tapes were regarded as incitement to terrorism, the broadcaster could face renewed calls to be closed down.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, sparked heated exchanges at the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday when he demanded EU backing for a series of tough anti-terror measures. The UK wants internet and mobile phone records to be retained for longer in all EU states.

Mr Clarke, who chairs a meeting of EU justice and interior ministers in Newcastle today, rejected claims that civil liberties would be eroded by opening up access to communications data or providing detailed transatlantic airline passenger information. Without an agreement on data-retention, Europeans would be fighting terrorism "with both hands tied behind our backs", the Home Secretary, said, adding: "Retention of telecommunication data is proving invaluable in the current investigations into the London attacks."

Mr Clarke has alarmed civil liberties groups by questioning a clause of the European Convention on Human Rights which has prevented the deportation of some terrorist suspects.

Centre-left, Liberal Democrat, Green and left-wing MEPs all stressed the need to protect civil liberties. Graham Watson, the leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs, said any "high noon" approach to terrorists would risk further alienating communities.

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