Britain Bans 16 for 'Fostering Extremism'
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
LONDON, May 5 -- The British government on Tuesday named 16 people who have been banned from entering Britain for "fostering extremism or hatred," including Muslim extremists, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, a U.S. radio talk show host and a Kansas preacher.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who is responsible for domestic security, said she decided to make the names public to show the kind of behavior that Britain is "not willing to have in this country."
The list includes six Americans. Perhaps the most prominent is Michael Savage, a nationally syndicated conservative radio host who has made controversial remarks about immigrants and Muslims, such as urging Americans to "burn the Mexican flag on your street corner" and saying that "when I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi."
Smith told the BBC that Savage was "someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country."
Savage reacted sarcastically.
"Darn! And I was just planning a trip to England for their superior dental work and cuisine," he told the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com.
He added that he has not actually been to Britain in about two decades and has no plans to return, except perhaps to take Smith to court. "I want to sue the British home secretary for defamation, for linking me up with murderers because of my opinions, my writings, my speaking -- none of which have advocated any violence, ever," he said.
The Rev. Fred W. Phelps Sr. and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church also are unwelcome in the United Kingdom. The pair, who have picketed at funerals carrying placards with anti-gay slogans, are banned for "fostering hatred," the Home Office said.
The other Americans on the list are Eric Gliebe, described by the Home Office as a distributor of "racist leaflets"; Abdul Ali Musa, a Muslim activist; and former Klan leader Stephen Donald Black.
"Coming to the U.K. is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life," Smith said in a statement. "Therefore, I will not hesitate to name and shame those who foster extremist views as I want them to know that they are not welcome here."
After suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's subway and bus system on July 7, 2005, the British government began barring entry to individuals who promote hatred, terrorist violence or serious criminal activity. In the last four years, 101 people have been excluded.
The 16 people named Tuesday are among 22 banned in the last five months; six were not named because it was not "in the public interest," the Home Office said.
Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, skinhead gang leaders who were sentenced to prison in Russia last December for their part in 20 racially motivated murders, were banned. So, too, were Islamic preachers Amir Siddique, Safwat Hijazi and Yunis Al Astal.
Some British civil libertarians found the list puzzling.
"How are these people selected? There's no process here, people aren't accused of a specific crime. It's deeply worrying," said Padraig Reidy, news editor of Index of Censorship, a London periodical that campaigns for freedom of expression.
He added that the list is so "bizarrely eclectic" that "you have to wonder if there was a deliberate move to make it eclectic, as if to say it's not Islamists being picked out."
Asked whether a radio talk show host and a convicted murderer constitute similar threats to British society, a spokesman for the Home Office said that each individual "is looked at on a case-by-case basis" and that "names can drop off the list" if individuals "can prove they no longer hold extreme views."