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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 18:07 GMT
Straw ban on Iranian opposition attacked
Robin Corbett
Mr Corbett challenged government policy
Home Secretary Jack Straw's plan to ban the Iranian opposition group Mujaheddin e Khalq (MeK) from operating in the UK has been branded the most "unethical foreign policy".

A majority of MPs, 337, and 94 members of the Lords have signed a statement demanding that the government backs the Iranian people and not President Khatami's regime.

There is no justification for it - the regime are the terrorists

Robin Corbett
Labour MP Robin Corbett, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said there was "no justification" for Mr Straw's plan to outlaw the MeK under the Terrorism Act.

Mr Straw's move to ban 21 foreign organisations from operating in the UK because, in his judgement, they are "concerned in terrorism" was passed by the Commons last week.

"I want Jack Straw to listen to the 337 members of the House of Commons and 94 members of the House of Lords who are backing that majority in Iran who are demanding freedom and change," said Mr Corbett.

"And that means in my view that the proposed proscription of the Mujaheddin should be dropped.

'Terrorist' regime

"There is no justification for it - the regime are the terrorists."

Mr Corbett was backed by senior Liberal Democrat politician Lord Alton who said that outlawing the MeK was a serious mistake and "perhaps the most unethical foreign policy one could imagine".

At a meeting in Westminster of MPs, peers and Iranian campaigners, Lord Alton accused the government of giving in to the demands of a brutal regime and called on Mr Straw to "reconsider this most obnoxious and odious decision".

President Khatami's regime has so far executed more than 700 people.

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See also:

21 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Mo Mowlam: My Iranian drugs mission
28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Islamic militant groups face ban
14 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Vote deferred on 'terrorist groups'
01 Mar 01 | UK Politics
More 'terror' groups face ban
28 Feb 01 | Europe
Foreign groups banned in Britain
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