The proposal, to deport Muslim clerics whose words foment violence or glorify terrorism (as indicated by Blair) is already being applied in other European countries. A report by the Institute of Race Relations on ‘the Integration Debate’ in Europe shows how deportations for ‘speech crimes’ has set back community relations and led to serious human rights violations.
Research by the IRR’s European Race Audit examined seventeen instances in which Muslims (mainly clerics or scholars) have been deported from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland using fast-track procedures which involve the rescinding of citizenship or residence rights. And it found:
- The definition of what constitutes a threat to national security has been expanded as to create a new ‘speech crime’ which is so amorphous and catch-all that it can include anything from promoting jihad to the espousal of anti-Western sentiments and a questioning of a government’s integration policy.
- Deportation by rescinding citizenship or residence rights is a way of circumventing the scrutiny of the judicial system and due process. Deportation might be a proportionate response to incitement to violence or hatred, but should, the report argues, be decided by a court.
- Without judicial oversight the process becomes opaque. It is impossible to ascertain whether credible evidence of a threat too national security has been gathered. (And this is particularly important because the offence relates to words rather than deeds.)
- The media’s portrayal of a cleric’s positions can have undue influence in the decision to deport an individual and ‘evidence’ can be flawed by mis-translation of a cleric’s words and by taking them out of context.
- Long-term residents or nationals can and should be charged under existing public order laws.
Liz Fekete, author of the report concludes:’Measures targeted at one religious community only, and the bypassing of the ordinary rule of law can lead to the perception in that community that its members are being excluded from European society and civil rights. Any law that discriminates between one section of citizens and another undermines democracy and can alienate the very community whose support is most vital to the stamping out of terror.’