The British government published its persona non grata list today, for the first time ever. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the list names 22 individuals who the authorities will not allow in the country. It consists of Islamic extremists, white supremacists and even one US radio personality. The United Kingdom’s Home Office has been able to ban people who promote hatred, terrorist violence or serious criminal activity from entering Britain since a law to that effect was passed in 2005.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the BBC that coming to the UK should be a privilege. Since taking office, Smith has toughened the entry criteria to the UK.
Granting free speech, she said, “does not provide a license to preach hatred… those banned have clearly overstepped the mark with the attitudes they had expressed. (Naming them) enables people to see the sorts of unacceptable behavior we are not willing to have in this country.
“Coming to this country is a privilege. We won’t allow people into this country who are going to propagate the sort of views… that fundamentally go against our values.”
Among those declared persona non grata are Hamas official Yunis al-Astal, Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky, as well as US radical Baptist minister Fred Waldron Phelps and two leaders of a violent Russian skinhead gang, ex-Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Stephen ‘Don’ Black and neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe.
US radio talk show host Michael Savage was also named. Savage’s views on immigration, Islam and autism have been slammed as highly offensive even in the US.
Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that people should be free to enter the country, regardless of their views: “If they step over the line and break the law, it’s at that moment the law should be enacted, not beforehand.
“If people are keeping their odious views to themselves, that’s their business. We should not be in the business of policing people’s minds.”
In recent years, individuals from a range of backgrounds have been prevented from entering the UK, including various animal rights activists, rap singers and even lifestyle guru Martha Stewart.