Home Secretary Theresa May on Sunday said she was “actively” considering whether to ban US pastor Terry Jones — who was behind the controversial ‘Burn a Quran Day’ — from entering Britain to speak to far-right activists.
According to his website ‘Standupamericanow’ Jones “will join the English Defense League (EDL) during their biggest demonstration to date on February 5, 2011, in Luton, England. During the protest, he will speak against “the evils and destructiveness of Islam in support of the continued fight against the Islamification of England and Europe.”
In an interview with Sky News, May said she would be actively considering his case. She told Sky News Sunday Live, “The home secretary has the right to exclude people who are not conducive to public good or on national security grounds,” she said, adding, “Pastor Terry Jones has been on my radar for a few months now. It wasn’t clear that he was definitely coming to the UK but if it is now clear that he’s definitely coming to the UK, then of course this is a case that I will be actively looking at.”
Jones told Sky News he would “respect the laws” of any country he visited. “I would by no means advocate something, preach something, speak something that will cause that type of riot or disturbance,” he added.
Terry Jones is the head of a small Florida church and was condemned across world when he threatened to burn copies of the Holy Quran on the last anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. EDL is a far-right organisation the focus of which is anti-Islam. Its members have clashed with Muslim groups in Luton on a number of occasions in the past. EDL’s last demonstration in Luton resulted in a rampage in which shop windows were smashed, property damaged and a number of people attacked.
A group calling itself ‘Hope Not Hate’ has launched a campaign to urge May to ban the preacher from entering the UK. Its online petition called “Stop the Preacher of Hate” states that Terry Jones’s presence in Luton will be “incendiary and highly dangerous … and cause concern and fear among Muslims across the country”.
(With Additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2010.