LETTER: Don't mix politics and asylum

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The Independent Online
From Dr G. W. Stadler

Sir: You report ("Islamic exiles 'flocking to safe haven in London' ", 4 November) that the governments of France and Algeria claim that Islamic extremists, who have obtained political asylum in Britain, are using London as a base for plotting the overthrow and assassination of their opponents abroad. They can do this because UK asylum law does not proscribe political activity, provided it does not break British law. I recall that Saudi Arabia has also claimed that Islamists living in Britain are undermining the Saudi state.

The actions of these Islamists are directed against relatively pro-Western governments, such as those of Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and against relatively pro-Western politicians, intellectuals and journalists within these countries.

How can it be in Britain's longer-term interests to allow this situation to continue? Given the Government's readiness to amend the asylum laws, why does it not change the law to proscribe political activity on the part of political refugees, as other countries do?

It is unclear what the Government hopes to achieve by allowing the status quo to continue. If it does not change the asylum laws in this regard, it should state what its policy objectives are in keeping the law unchanged, and be prepared to justify these objectives publicly.

Yours faithfully,

G. W. Stadler

Ponteland, Northumberland

5 November