The Guardian has published the full text of Tony Blair's speech on the new anti-terrorism measures that the administration is trying to implement. Unsurpringly, they focus on "foreign nationals" - non-status residents, refugees, and asylum-seekers. Here's a sampling (excerpted from Blair's speech, emphasis mine):

"1. New grounds for deportation and exclusion...The new grounds will include fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs or justifying or validating such violence...We are today signalling a new approach to deportation orders. Let no one be in any doubt. The rules of the game are changing.

...One other point on deportations. Once the new grounds take effect, there will be a list drawn up of specific extremist websites, bookshops, centres, networks and particular organisations of concern. Active engagement with any of these will be a trigger for the home secretary to consider the deportation of any foreign national.

2. New anti-terrorism legislation [will be introduced] in the autumn. This will include an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism. The sort of remarks made in recent days should be covered by such laws. But this will also be applied to justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere, not just in the UK.

3. Anyone who has participated in terrorism or has anything to do with it anywhere will automatically be refused asylum.

4. We have already powers to strip citizenship from those individuals with British or dual nationality who act in a way that is contrary to the interests of this country. We will now consult on extending these powers, applying them to naturalised citizens engaged in extremism and making the procedures simpler and more effective.

5. Cases such as Rashid Ramda wanted for the Paris metro bombing 10 years ago and who is still in the UK whilst France seeks extradition, are completely unacceptable. We will begin consultation, on setting a maximum time limit for all future extradition cases involving terrorism.

6. A new court procedure which would allow a pre-trial process. We will also examine whether the necessary procedure can be brought about to give us a way of meeting the police and security service request that detention pre-charge of terrorist suspects be significantly extended

7. For those who are [non-naturalized] British nationals and who cannot be deported, we will extend the use of control orders. Any breach can mean imprisonment.

8. To expand the court capacity necessary to deal with this and other related issues, the Lord Chancellor will increase the number of special judges hearing such cases.

9. We will proscribe Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the successor organisation of Al Muhajiroun. We will also examine the grounds of proscription to widen them and put proposals forward in the new legislation.

10. It is now necessary, in order to acquire British citizenship, that people attend a citizenship ceremony, swear allegiance to the country and have a rudimentary grasp of the English language. We will review the threshold for this to make sure it is adequate and we will establish, with the Muslim community, a commission to advise on how, consistent with people's complete freedom to worship in the way they want, and to follow their own religion and culture, there is better integration of those parts of the community presently inadequately integrated. I have asked Hazel Blears [!] to make this part of the work she is currently undertaking.

11. A new power to order closure of a place of worship which is used as a centre for fomenting extremism and will consult with Muslim leaders in respect of those clerics who are not British citizens, to draw up a list of those not suitable to preach who will be excluded from Britain.

12. We will bring forward the proposed measures on the security of our borders, with a series of countries specifically designated for biometric visas over the next year. Meanwhile, the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office are compiling an international database of those individuals whose activities or views pose a threat to Britain's security. Anyone on the database will be excluded from entry with any appeal only taking place outside the country.

...If legislation can be made ready in time and the right consensus is achieved, we are ready to recall parliament in September, at least to begin the debate over the measures.

...Coming to Britain is not a right. And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life. Those that break that duty and try to incite hatred or engage in violence against our country and its people, have no place here. Over the coming months, in the courts, in parliament, in debate and engagement with all parts of our communities, we will work to turn those sentiments into reality. That is my duty as prime minister."

Scary shit, indeed. The Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, nationalist tenor of the proposed measures is not, to my mind, at all tempered by Blair's question-begging disclaimer, that "this is [legislation] not in any way whatever aimed at the decent, law-abiding Muslim community of Britain." It is clear that this legislation attempts to further solidify the two-tiered citizenship system (national vs. naturalized) by limiting the rights of naturalized citizens and making immigration and citizenship more onerous processes for certain populations. For if it is true that "coming to Britain is not a right," there is no sense in which "being born in Britain" is a right, either. It doesn't follow from this that, once in Britain, one should not have certain inalienable rights, indeed the same rights as others, regardless of when or how one got there.

Especially disturbing are the measures to institute a so-called "pre-trial process" for the investigation and prosecution of terrorist activity; this is tantamount to allowing arrest and detention without charges, and in Canada - which implemented "security certificates" to achieve this shortly after 9/11 - it has meant a disastrous contravention of basic human rights. And it doesn't take a genius to see the repressive use to which the anti-terrorism legislation which criminalizes "condoning and glorifying terrorism" will, undoubtedly be put. What counts as "condoning" terrorism? Attempts to explain its causes? It's quite clear that this is a strategy to silence any and all criticism of Britain's foreign policy. From the blacklisting and possible deportation of those who visit or run "extremist bookshops," to the right to shut down places of religious worship, to the eventual implementation of biometric visas, this spells trouble for basic human freedoms in a country that, in the aftermath of the July 7 bombing was heaping praise on itself for its "calm" response, righteous fearlessness and multiculturalist tolerance. If those things are true of the the British people, they're certainly not true of Blair's government.

So the British -- Muslims and non-Muslims alike -- should be mighty worried. Because, at bottom, the "sentiments" that Blair wants to "turn ... into reality" are nothing more than thinly-veiled chauvenism, racism, and xenophobia. And the new proposed anti-terrorism measures will do less to eliminate terrorism, and more to curtail freedoms of speech, increase racist and anti-immigrant attacks, and ensure that racialized and minoritized people live in fear. This isn't about preventing terrorism; it's about terrorizing communities and criminalizing oppositional movements. It's opportunistic, it's hypocritical, it's appalling, and it must be resisted, both in Britain and around the world.

For more analysis of the proposed anti-terrorism measures, see Lenin's Tomb.


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