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Farrakhan banned from Britain

Farrakhan has been banned from entering the UK since the mid-80s  

LONDON, England -- The British government has won its legal bid to keep controversial black U.S. political leader Louis Farrakhan out of the UK.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal said the government's decision to maintain its ban against the Nation of Islam leader was correct, based upon its assessment of the risk that his "notorious opinions" might provoke disorder.

The ruling comes after months of legal wrangling following a decision in 2000 by then-Home Secretary Jack Straw to extend the ban, which has been in place since 1986.

Farrakhan challenged Straw's decision, leading Britain's High Court to overturn the ban -- much to the government's dismay.

Current Home Secretary David Blunkett then took the case to the Court of Appeal.

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"I am very relieved that the view taken by successive Home Secretaries has been vindicated and the Home Secretary's right to exclude someone from the country whose presence is not conducive to good public order has been upheld," Blunkett said in a statement after Tuesday's ruling.

"This has been a long haul, but I am pleased with today's ruling, which makes clear that the Home Secretary is both best placed and democratically accountable for these decisions."

A spokesman for Farrakhan said an appeal was being considered.

"Obviously we are disappointed but we are not excessively surprised," said Minister Hilary Muhammed, Farrakhan's representative in the UK.

"Very seldom do black people enjoy good news from any court anywhere to be found. We have to live with bad news on a daily basis. ... We will continue to fight this injustice because we believe faith and justice is on our side. We have to fight for what is our due right."

In their decision, the three Court of Appeal judges said: "In evaluating ... (the) risk (in deciding whether to let Farrakhan enter Britain), the Home Secretary had had regard to tensions in the Middle East current at the time of his decision."

The judges had been told that Farrakhan was well-known for making anti-Semitic and racially divisive views.

Neville Nagler, director general of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told CNN: "We are pleased that the Appeal Court has upheld our long-standing position that Louis Farrakhan is at best a menace and at worst destructive to the process of racial and religious integration in Britain.

"At no time has he retracted any of his official statements against Jews, whites, Christian leadership and homosexuals.

UK Home Secretary David Blunkett welcomed the court's decison
UK Home Secretary David Blunkett welcomed the court's decison  

"There has been no evidence to support his claim that he is a reformed man and we have every reason to believe that had he been allowed to enter Britain today he would have caused racial and religious discord."

Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, told Britain's Press Association: "I am delighted that the law has acted justly, realising the damage that Farrakhan could have done to Britain, particularly now at a time of political unrest in the Middle East, Europe and here."

Farrakhan, 68, is the leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, the published aims of which include "the regeneration of black self-esteem, dignity and self-discipline."

He has been seeking since 1986 to enter Britain to address his followers, who have set up their own UK branch.

Successive Home Secretaries have refused permission but in October last year Mr Justice Turner of the High Court ruled that then-Home Secretary Straw had failed to give justification for excluding Farrakhan from the country in 2000.

Monica Carss-Frisk QC, representing Blunkett, told the Court of Appeal that the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Human Rights Convention did not apply in a case involving a decision on whether to allow a non-national into the country.

"The Home Secretary was entitled to conclude that Mr. Farrakhan is well-known for expressing anti-Semitic and racially divisive views, particularly at a time of political unrest in the Middle East," she said.

"To allow him into the country would pose a significant threat to community relations and public order and was therefore contrary to the public good."

Nicholas Blake QC, representing Farrakhan, told the court that in the years since the first exclusion order was made, his client had achieved a status as a spiritual and political voice of the African-American community in the U.S.

He said the Home Secretary's decision was based on past statements by Farrakhan and not on any fears that he would violate Britain's race relations laws.

Blake said it was common ground that Farrakhan had made remarks in the past that were offensive and controversial that were still to be relied upon to continue the exclusion order.

Blake said Farrakhan was not a fascist sympathiser, a Holocaust denier or a supremacist seeking to liquidate other religions or races.

Blake said Farrakhan had not only targeted Jews in his speeches but had also "said unkind things about whites, Catholics and gays".

"It is absurd to say that this is a man who is a rabble rouser. He has never been convicted of any disorderly conduct as neither has anyone who attended his meetings," he said.


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