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Mr. Shahid Malik (Dewsbury) (Lab):
Earlier today, my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan) was addressed by Madam Deputy Speaker as Shahid
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Malik. She is in good company, because my mother was watching the BBC Parliament channel last week and saw me referred to as Sadiq Khan. She was not pleased that I had not consulted her on the name change. We are often confused, but I assure the House that we are not twins.
Most hon. Members will agree that since 7 July few places have been challenged as much as my constituency. I was proud to be elected as Dewsbury's MP, but that pride pales into insignificance compared with the pride I feel at the way in which we have responded, as a united community, against the twin evils of terrorism and extremism. However, I am not naive, and the arrest this weekend in my constituency of a young man whom the tabloids have labelled the fifth suicide bomber underlines the need for constant vigilance.
The alleged ringleader of the 7 July attacks was Mohammed Siddique Khan, also from Dewsbury. Many hon. Members will have seen his chilling video on al-Jazeera, in which he blamed westerners like me for the attacks. More than 50 innocent people, including six Muslims, were murdered in the attacks, so let us make no mistake that he meant people like me. Let us be clear that the only people responsible for those heinous acts were Siddique Khan and his twisted associates. Nothing in this world could excuse or justify their vile actions.
I shall touch on the debate about the cause of the suicide bombings. It is true that foreign policy concerns about Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine and Iraq, coupled with deprivation and the negative portrayal of Islam in the media, have caused frustration and anger among British Muslims. I am often angry and frustrated about injustices at home and abroad, but I do not blow myself up and kill innocent fellow citizens in the belief that I will go to heaven. No Muslim I have ever met would suggest that such actions were Islamic. The lethal ingredient that turns legitimate anger and frustration into hatred and terrorism is an utterly grotesque and perverted interpretation of Islam. That is why I associate myself with the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), who talked of debate, discourse and democracy as the vehicle for change in this country.
In my maiden speech, two weeks before 7 July, I said that a modern Britain had no place for extremism of any order, whether it be from Nick Griffin and the BNP or Sheikh Omar Bakri and al-Muhajiroun. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for ensuring that Bakria man who caused more damage to the image of Islam than the BNP ever couldis no longer in Britain. I wish only that we could send Nick Griffin with him.
I ask hon. Members to heed the point that we must send a clear message from this Chamber that this issue is not about Islam, but about extremism. The Bill is not about targeting Muslims, but about targeting extremism, whatever shape or form it takes. However, I repeat the concerns that I articulated in the Home Affairs Committee that my right hon. Friend needs to strive to strike the balance between civil liberties and
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security for our citizens. We must be careful not to exclude the very people whose support is crucial in this struggle.
Mr. Khan: I accept my hon. Friend's point that it is not the intention of the legislation to discriminate against communities. However, the figures on the ethnicity of those people who have been subjected to stop and search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 leave no doubt that the perception in the community that those so treated are of a certain faith and ethnicity is correct.
Mr. Malik: I fully accept that the police and security services need to do much more to give to those communities the confidence that they are not being unfairly targeted. Indeed, as a former commissioner on the Commission for Racial Equality, I have raised that issue on number occasions.
The Home Secretary recognises more than most that legislation on its own cannot create the kind of society that we want. Our battle must also be one to win the hearts and minds of all decent Britons. That is why I applaud the seven working groups that he has set up to deal with the environment that can fuel extremism and foster terrorism. I also applaud his decision to chair the commission on integration and cohesion, which has the potential to do much good.
Although it is absolutely right that we focus on young Muslims in our inner cities who feel alienated and isolated and are ripe for exploitation by extremists, it is equally true that young white men in our peripheral estates also feel alienated and isolated, albeit for different reasons, and are similarly ripe for exploitation by far right-wing groups. We ignore their needs at our peril. However, the debate is about legislation, and like many hon. Members I have much sympathy with the Home Secretary's intentions in introducing the Bill.
To those who would say that introducing these laws is a sign that the terrorists have won, I say that they have the luxury of expressing that view. Our role in the House is to guard against such self-indulgence and to prioritise the protection of our people in the face of a new and lethal threat. Since 7 July, this country has changed. Our world has changed, and I accept that we must respond to the challenges that that change presents. I do not believe that anyone can be happy with the prospect of introducing legislation under such circumstances, but it is essential that we now re-examine the balance between liberty and security and between rights and responsibilities.
Greg Mulholland (Leeds, North-West) (LD): I thank the hon. Gentleman for the way in which we were able to work together as two of the hon. Members whose constituencies were affected by what happened in the summer, but I want to ask him a direct question. Does he not agree that there is real concern in Muslim communities above all specifically about clause 23 on extending the period of detention to 90 days? Is that not a real problem?
I have talked about the balance between liberty and security, and I am very clear about one thing: in the struggle between competing rights, the right to life is
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paramount. It is our most precious freedom, and it must be defended. Like most hon. Members, I do not take lightly the prospect of enacting legislation that could imprison a person for up to 90 days without charge I am most uncomfortable about thatbut I am aware that, after 7 and 21 July, the police amassed some 38,000 exhibits and 80,000 CCTV videos, which needed to be monitored and examined. Hence, in exceptional cases, there is plainly an argument for increasing the current 14-day maximum pre-charge detention. On that point, I disagree with the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten) and agree with the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson).
The question for the House is not whether an increase is needed, but whether 90 days is justifiable. I am not 100 per cent. convinced, but there is some reassurance in the fact that Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terrorist legislation, is a strong supporter of the Bill, and that extending the pre-charge period will require judicial review every seven days. I also draw comfort from the fact that, over the past two years under the current laws, only 11 people have been held for the full allowable period and all 11 were charged. That suggests that the new legislation will be used sparingly and only where the likelihood of charges being brought is high.
I welcome the amending of the draft legislation and the incorporation of the element of intent into the offence of glorification. That is most helpful. On a connected note, during the election in Dewsbury, I was plagued by both the BNP and Hizb ut-Tahrir. I should love to ban them both, but while they refrain from overtly promoting violence, our battle with them must be one of ideas.
I urge everyone in our communities to support the police and the security services in their fight against the evil of terrorism. They cannot win that battle alone. We all have a responsibility as communities and individuals, which is why I am happy to say that over the past few weeks I have passed on information to the authorities about possible terrorist activity. I shall continue to do so. A handful of people in the Muslim community may say that that represents a betrayal of Islam, but I regard it as a fundamental act of Islam.
Greg Mulholland (Leeds, North-West) (LD): Everyone in the House will remember 7 July for a long time, but I will never forget 12 July for as long as I live. At about 11.30 on that Tuesday morning, I received a text message from a council colleague in Leeds. He told me that helicopters were hovering over a property in the Hyde Park area of my constituency, police were carrying out an armed raid and that I should return as quickly as I could. I was at the police cordon by 4 pm that day, in a community with a deep sense of shock. I am delighted to say, however, that the community's response was magnificent, as I am sure it was in Dewsbury. We must emphasise that point. The communities of Hyde Park, Beeston and Dewsbury have been united in both their condemnation of the appalling events of 7 July and their real resolve to move forward as united, diverse, multicultural communities.
We have to accept that the Bill is before the House largely as a result of the appalling reality that four young men from west Yorkshire decided to go to their capital
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city and blow themselves up. A week after 12 July I visited all the homes where families had been evacuated due to the bomb factory in my constituency. I spoke to constituents who had been affected to reassure them and to get a sense of how they were feeling.
I had a conversation with a Muslim mother who told me, "We are scared". I replied that I could understand that but she said, "No, you don't understand". She told me that they were scared not only about a backlash and reprisals from far-right groups such as the BNP, but also because they thought that the Government would brand them all as terrorists.
I am glad to say that the Hyde Park community and my party are united about the parts of the Bill that we genuinely feel will go a long way towards helping to prevent repetitions of 7 July, but some things are causing real concern. People feel that clause 1 will prevent debate about things such as the occupation of Iraq by British and American troops, and about Palestine and Chechnya. They are also deeply concerned about deportations to countries that practise torture, whatever bits of paper people may be given. Most of all, they are concerned about the provisionsto which we objectto detain people without trial for 90 days. From my experience of the community perspective, I can tell the House that those provisions are seen as draconian, dangerous and deeply divisive. They are divisive because, as was said earlier, we all know who will be detained for 90 days without trial. They will be members of communities such as ours who are Asian or Arabic-looking.
The whole investigation into the property in Alexandra grove, which briefly became one of the most notorious addresses in the world, showed the real dangers that exist. Within days of the discovery, three different suspects had been tried and found guilty by the media. The Egyptian, Dr. el-Nashar, was unable to return to his home and job at Leeds university because as far as everyone was concerned, he was guilty. I pay tribute to the intervention made by the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) in which he pointed out the real dangers of confusion and the fact that people will live in fear of being detained, although they are entirely innocent.
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