The government has announced new measures to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages from coming to the UK.
The new laws will target extremist Muslims, neo-Nazis, animal rights terrorists and others.
“Coming to the UK is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life,” said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
Since August 2005, 230 people have been excluded from entering the UK because of suspicions that they pose a threat to national security, or are fostering extremism, according to the Home Office. This includes 79 ‘hate preachers’.
The new rules will:
• create a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in fostering, encouraging or spreading extremism and hatred,
• provide that where an individual claims to have renounced their previous extremist views or actions the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that this is so and that this has been publicly communicated,
• introduce changes that will allow the government to exclude nationals of the European Economic Area, and their families, from the UK, before they travel to this country, if they constitute a threat to public security or policy
• work with other agencies and community groups to improve the evidence base underpinning our exclusion decisions to ensure that we identify those who pose the greatest threat to our society,
• consider in all future cases whether it would be in the public interest to disclose that an individual has been excluded with a presumption to inform the public, and
• make greater use of UK watch lists to ensure that individuals who might fail to be excluded, should they seek to come to the UK, are identified, and any future visa application is considered with full regard to previous extremist activities.
Under the new rules, for the first time, the government will ‘name and shame’ hate preachers, and share its exclusions list with other countries.
In February Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi was refused entry to the UK.
The spiritual leader of Islamicist organisation the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr Qaradawi is known to have supported suicide bombings in Israel, the oppression of women’s rights and has argued in the past that homosexuals should be put to death.
The Home Office said he was refused entry over concerns his presence “could foster inter-community violence.”
He was at the centre of a row in 2004 when he came to London as a guest of Mayor Ken Livingstone, who was then heavily criticised by gay rights campaigners and Jewish organisations for hosting him.
Gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust wrote to the Home Secretary today asking that Dr Qaradawi be included in the list of hate preachers who will be banned from entering the country.