|The Home Secretary Alan Johnson has today announced that the government is to move to proscribe Islam4UK and its parent organisation Al Muhajiroun, and any other successor group the organisation mutates into, under counter-terrorism laws.|
The BBC reports that the Home Secretary as saying: "I have today laid an order which will proscribe al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organisation goes by.
"It is already proscribed under two other names - al-Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect.
"Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course we take lightly.
"We are clear that an organisation should not be able to circumvent proscription by simply changing its name."
The aspects on the Terrorism Act 2000 which are being invoked include provisions that allow for the banning of group(s) which:
"commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for, promotes or encourages terrorism or is otherwise concerned in terrorism".
The 'glorification' clause also permits proscription of groups which "unlawfully glorify the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism".
The banning order is due to come into effect on Thursday and will punish membership of the organisation with up to 10 years imprisonment.
Anjem Choudary speaking on the Today programme denied accusations that the group has been involved in violent acts which would cause it to fall foul of the law.
"What the people will see is if you don't agree with the government and you want to expose their foreign policy, then freedom quickly dissipates and turns into dictatorship."
The difficulties posed by the glorification clause in Terrorism legislation was raised at the time of deliberation in November 2005 by the Muslim Council of Britain. The MCB stated at the time that, ‘The Muslim community, along with other civil and human rights organisations, is alarmed at the prospect of ... in view of the 'glorification clause - the circumscription of dissenting opinion through the banning of non-violent groups and the implications for expressing legitimate criticism and condemnation of oppressive regimes and those who violate international legality.’
And again, when the Act came into force in April 2006, the MCB counselled the Government that ‘attempt[s] to criminalise non-violent organisations, groups and individuals for supporting legitimate causes around the world and expressing political opinion will result in a loss of trust between the Muslim community and the Government.’
There are few British Muslims that will sympathise with the actions of Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK. Their proposed march for Shari’ah, and the more recent proposed march through Wootton Bassett, were widely known to have been nothing more than publicity stunts intended to place severe strain on community relations and invite maximum media outrage. The fact that both these marches were cancelled after having caused much disrepair to community relations is just the sort of irresponsible behaviour we have come to expect from these groups. The case of the Luton protest too was yet a further instance of the group’s callous disregard for smearing the reputations of British Muslims with their reprehensible, offensive actions.
There is little love lost between Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK and British Muslims at large, particularly since the greatest casualties of the groups provocative antics, and the media’s obsession with them, are the law abiding majority of British Muslims, but draconian laws and their arbitrary enforcement are not the way to deal with fringe groups, however detestable their conduct.
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