Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat Interviews British Immigration Minister Tony McNulty. | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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(Q) The treatment received by the Iraqi Kurds in England, where British Immigration has deported thousands back to Iraq”s Kurdistan has made Arabs and Muslims fear the treatment waiting for them here, whether they come from North Africa or other Mediterranean countries?

(A) We are not in fact deporting thousands of Kurds at present. Some agreed to return voluntarily to Iraq”s Kurdistan. We have been saying for more than a year that when it becomes safe to return to some parts of Iraq, then we will send back the asylum seekers whose applications were not accepted. We delayed the measures to deport these to Iraq”s Kurdistan for two weeks or more for various reasons. However, we still insist on sending back those who failed in their appeals against the rejection of the asylum applications even though they followed all the available routes. We must deport them because deportation is a positive part of the policy of asylum and immigration that we should comply with.

(Q) But can you assure Arabs and Muslims that they will be welcomed in Britain if they come to it?

(A) They are most certainly welcomed. All that we are seeking is to send back the refugees whose applications were rejected or who are illegal immigrants in other cases. But we welcome the legitimate asylum applications and the legal immigration ones. We have deeply rooted traditions in this country about helping the needy and giving them shelter. These traditions remain and we respect them and will not sacrifice them. But we will be strict with anyone who tries to harm these traditions or seeks to exploit them in an unacceptable way. We, as a state with a modern economy, do not have all the skills we need, which means that we need regular and supervised immigration so as to close these gaps. I therefore reiterate that the Arabs and Muslims are welcomed in full when they come through the legal channels. This is what actually always happens.

(Q) When do you expect the negotiations that Britain is holding at present with Muslim countries to hand over persons wanted on terrorism charges to end?

(A) It is difficult to speculate about the time these negotiations will take. But as you know, we are holding talks with a number of countries to obtain pledges that the rights of the persons we are seeking to deport will be protected. Human rights are for us an extremely important matter, as I said. But we do not want this question to be an obstacle that cannot be overcome in the end and hence impede the process of sending back some persons to their homelands. Negotiations are continuing and have reached various stages with the concerned countries. I cannot say more than that.

(Q) Does this mean that the ban announced by the prime minister on Hizb ut-Tahrir and &#34Al-Ghuraba&#34 group needs new legislations?

(A) We are examining at present this and other aspects of the news measures. We are studying the measures announced by the prime minister and examining all their details for the purpose of finding the best possible ways for applying them. In some cases, we should hold consultations and this is very logical. However, we are determined to apply all these measures, including the ban on the two mentioned organizations, in the best available ways as soon as this becomes possible.