LONDON -- The British government yesterday dropped a key part of the anti-terrorism legislation proposed after the deadly July 7 suicide bombings on London's transit system, abandoning its effort to let police shut down extremist mosques.
The mosque proposal, introduced a month after four suspected suicide bombers killed 52 bus and subway passengers, had been criticized by police and religious organizations.
It was among strict measures that would allow Britain to expel foreigners who preach hatred, to bar entry to Muslim radicals, and to ban membership in extremist organizations.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke said in a written statement to the House of Commons that he was dropping the mosques proposal ''although we will keep the matter under review."
The proposal would have given police powers to temporarily close places of worship being used by extremists. The trustee or owner would then be served with an order to halt radical activity.
The Home Office spokesman said 66 people and organizations had responded to a consultation on the proposal, and most were opposed.
The Association of Chief Police Officers also opposed the idea, saying it risked alienating Muslims and driving extremism underground.
The Rev. Graham Sparkes of the Baptist Union of Great Britain said Baptists had suffered persecution and imprisonment in the past in their efforts to ''secure control over what was preached, where it could be preached, and who could preach."
''We would be very sensitive toward any proposals that put these hard-won freedoms under threat," Sparkes said in a statement to the government.
Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said mosques were wrongly being branded ''as incubators of violent extremism, while the social reality is that they serve as centers of moderation."
''The bombers were indoctrinated by a subculture outside the mosque," Sacranie said.