This law won’t fight terror – it is an incitement to terrorism

“… as the mayor of London pointed out yesterday, support for Nelson Mandela, the wartime resistance and any number of anti-colonial liberation movements would all have been crimes under this bill. In practice, of course, the law is intended to be used selectively: it is aimed not just at those who praise bomb attacks on the London tube, but at Muslims and others who believe that Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans and others have a right to resist occupation.

“If there were any doubt about that, Blair’s stated intention to use this bill to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir – reaffirmed this week by the Home Office – should dispel it. There is little love lost among many Muslims – let alone non-Muslims – for Hizb ut-Tahrir, which campaigns for a restored caliphate (or unified Islamic political authority) throughout the Muslim world and against participation in elections. Although it denies being anti-Jewish, the organisation had on its website until recently a statement which by any reckoning crossed the line from anti-Zionism into anti-semitism.

“But there is also no evidence at all that it is involved in terrorism – it condemned both the London bombings and the 9/11 attacks. It does not, however, condemn armed resistance in Iraq and Palestine, which is how the government plans to catch it. Along with the criminalisation of support for resistance movements, such a ban on a non-violent political party would be unprecedented in modern British history. When set against the toleration of the routinely violent and relentlessly racist British National party, it is scarcely surprising that Muslim opinion is overwhelmingly hostile to all the main planks of the legislation.”

Seumas Milne in the Guardian, 13 October 2005