Britons willing to sacrifice civil liberties for security

Almost three quarters of Britons are ready to give up some civil liberties in return for better security, according to a poll conducted since the deadly July bombings.

The ICM poll published Monday in the Guardian newspaper showed that 73 percent of respondents backed the trade off, with only 17 percent rejecting it outright. The results suggest the British public largely backs a range of anti-terror measures proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, including a new offense of inciting terrorism and deporting radical clerics who glorify acts of violence.

ICM interviewed 1,006 adults by telephone between Aug 12-14. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.

Since July 7 when four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters and the failed attacks two weeks later, Blair's government has been trying to build support among political opponents and Muslim leaders for new anti-terrorism legislation.

Some of the proposals, including barring radical Islamic clerics from entering Britain, closing down mosques linked to extremism, banning certain Islamic groups and, if necessary, amending human rights laws, have concerned civil rights campaigners and Muslim leaders.

According to the poll, the public appears to support the changes. Sixty-two percent of respondents backed deporting foreign nationals who spread radical Islamist views, even if they were returned to countries which use torture.

Sixty-eight percent of interviewees also backed extending from two weeks to three months the length of time a terror suspect can be held without charge, as requested by British police chiefs.

Blair's popularity rating has risen, according to the poll. He is now narrowly into positive figures, with 47 percent of respondents satisfied with his performance as prime minister, while 45 percent were not. In a similar poll conducted in January, 38 percent were satisfied and 50 percent were not, the AP reports.

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