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London mayor leads opposition to new anti-terror laws

11-10-2005

London, IRNA:

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has joined a new cross-party coalition to oppose some of the government's more extreme anti-terror measures following July's attacks in the British capital.

"We support measures to tackle terrorist attacks, such as those on London on July 7, but we oppose measures which would exclude or criminalize people who condemn such attacks and whose cooperation is indispensable to the work of the police," Livingstone said.

In a letter to the Independent newspaper Tuesday, he suggested that any laws must pass the 'Mandela test,' warning that the government's proposals would have banned the former South African president and criminalized anyone supporting him.

The cross-party coalition is holding a public meeting in London on Wednesday to launch their campaign, arguing that "only united communities can defeat terrorism."

One of the main concerns is that the measures are being directed at Britain's 1.8 million Muslim community and in effect are turning the country into a 'police state.'

Apart from Livingstone, speaker at the meeting include the Liberal Democrat's shadow Mark Oaten, Scottish Nationalist leader Alex Salmond and several Labour MPs, including Muslim human rights lawyer Sadiq Khan and former cabinet minister Frank Dobson.

Others include Muslim Council of Britain secretary general, Church of England Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Rev Colin Bennetts and Amrik Singh of the UK's Sikh Federation.

The coalition also brings together major trade unions, civil rights groups, peace activists, environmental organizations and many others, including the Black Police Association.

The campaign is opposing an extension of the Home Secretary's powers to deport and exclude foreign nationals based upon a list of so-called "unacceptable behaviours."

Another major focus is the government's controversial plans to increase the detention of terrorist suspects without charge from two weeks to three months, which some fear is effectively bringing back internment 30 years after it was discredited in Northern Ireland.

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