From the BBC:
[Home secretary Alan] Johnson said: "I have today laid an order which will proscribe al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organisation goes by.And so the amateur controversialists in al-Muhajiroun have had a banning order slapped on them.
"It is already proscribed under two other names - al-Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect.
"Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course we take lightly.
"We are clear that an organisation should not be able to circumvent proscription by simply changing its name."
However, from the point of view of the ever-eroding democracy we have in Britain this is indefensible. Nor is it particularly a wise move from a "security" point of view.
That al-Muhajiroun and its various front groups are deeply unpleasant and reactionary is incontrovertible. Yet they are perfectly entitled to their opinions. Ideologically they may be profoundly illiberal and downright anti-socialist, but as far as I'm aware they do not intimidate their opponents or seek to physically disrupt their activities. They pose zero threat to what liberals and conservatives call 'civil society', nor do they significantly challenge the labour movement. True, their brand of political Islam plays into the hands of Islamophobic scare mongering by the gutter press and the far right, but is that reason enough to ban them? That they have a membership among Muslims comparable to the most irrelevant and shrill elements of the Trotskyist left demonstrates the lack of resonance their ideas have.
According to the same BBC report, al-Muhajiroun's founder-leader Omar Bakri Muhammad said of the news "I think it is a grave mistake because it will force them underground". For once, he speaks a truth. Study after study has shown that there is a minority of Muslim-Asian youth who are profoundly alienated from British society for a whole host of reasons. While it is true al-Muhajiroun has only recruited a tiny percentage of this layer their victimisation at the hands of the state can act to *enhance* their status as a radical Islamic answer to the status quo. Is that really what anyone who cares about deepening democracy in British society wants?
Yes, it does appear there are "coincidences" between al-Muhajiroun membership and bomb plots, in the same way there's coincidences between BNP membership/support and would-be terrorists. But neither fundamentalist Islam or white nationalism by themselves *cause* terroristic actions. They, like the ideas they seek inspiration from, have their well-spring deep in the bowels of a deeply unequal, authoritarian and alienating society. Being tough on terrorism requires being tough on the causes of terrorism - and that requires a politics committed to profound social change. Unfortunately for Alan Johnson, while his ban on Islam4UK will secure some positive headlines it will do nothing to ameliorate the sources of disaffection.