Three men were today remanded in custody charged under anti-terror laws in connection with the July 21 attacks in London.
The men, who were all arrested in Brighton on July 31, are accused of failing to disclose information about the failed bombings.
Their appearance at Horseferry Road Magistrates’ Court, central London, came as the first cracks began to appear in the cross-party political consensus over anti-terrorist legislation that has been built up since the July 7 atrocities.
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy voiced serious misgivings about proposals outlined yesterday by Prime Minister Tony Blair to deport clerics who preach hate and shut down mosques, bookshops and websites where terrorism is fomented.
Conservative leader Michael Howard said that his party supported the Prime Minister’s plans “in principle”, but would scrutinise their details closely. Ministers appeared not to have thought through their implications fully, he said.
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, this morning called for “unity” across political parties and religious faiths behind Mr Blair’s proposals.
“It is so important that there is unity, not just across the political consensus... but also in the Muslim community as well,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
But Mr Kennedy, who has long positioned the Liberal Democrats as the protectors of civil liberties, indicated that the Government could not rely on his party’s support when the measures come before Parliament.
He complained that the Lib Dems had not been consulted on several of the measures unveiled yesterday, and said the party wanted to balance the need for security with the need to “uphold civil liberties and the right to free speech”.
Mr Kennedy warned that shutting down mosques and banning militant groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir might play into the radicals’ hands by making their claim that Islam is under assault more persuasive to impressionable Muslim youths.
And he warned that Britain’s international reputation was at stake if it started deporting people to countries which practise torture and the death penalty.
Mr Kennedy said: “The Prime Minister talks about how the mood has changed. I think undoubtedly he is correct. There is a worried mood in the country, and rightly so, about the problems and dangers being faced and the terrible events that have taken place.
“But you can’t just legislate by mood.”
Mr Howard told Today: “It is important that a united front is maintained in the face of the terrorist threat.
“We will scrutinise any legislative proposals carefully, but in principle we support what the Government has now announced.”
Lord Falconer said he hoped the cross-party political consensus on the measures could be maintained.
“I think there is a very widespread sense in the country, subsequent to July 7, that things have changed,” he said.
“A new balance needs to be struck. It needs to be a lawful balance, but it needs to be an effective balance.”
Hizb ut-Tahrir today vowed to fight plans to proscribe it under anti-terror legislation, announced by Mr Blair yesterday.
In a press conference in central London, the party’s spokesman Dr Imran Waheed said it was committed to non-violent, political campaigning and had denounced the July 7 London bombings.
“Placing a ban on a political party with a 50-year history of non-violence will lead many to question the talk of freedom of speech, tolerance, people power, human rights and democracy,” he said.
Birmingham’s most senior Muslim leader, the chairman of the Central Mosque Dr Mohammed Naseem, today said Mr Blair’s proposals were comparable with the demonisation of the Jews by Adolf Hitler after he was elected German Chancellor in 1933.
“He (Hitler) was democratically elected and gradually he created a bogey identity, that is, the Jewish people, and posed to the Germans that they were a threat to the country,” said Dr Naseem.
“On that basis, he started a process of elimination of Jewish people.
“I see the similarities. Everything moves step by step. I am saying these are dangerous times and we must take note of this.”
A Labour spokesman said: “That Dr Naseem has made these comments is not that surprising, given that he stood as a Respect candidate at the General Election.
“As Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr Khalid Mahmood said earlier in the week, Dr Naseem does not speak for most moderate Muslims when he says these things.”
The three men remanded in custody at Horseferry Road today were Shadi Abdel Gadir, 22, and Omar Nagmeloin Almagboul, 20, both of Dyke Road, Brighton, and Mohamed Kabashi, 23, of Mary Magdalene Road, Brighton.
Their case was adjourned until August 11, when they are due to appear at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court in central London.