Farrakhan 'still poses a public order risk'

The Daily Telegraph (England)/March 13, 2002
By Joshua Rozenberg

Louis Farrakhan, the Black Muslim leader, should not be allowed to visit Britain because his presence would threaten community relations and public order, the Government argued in the Appeal Court yesterday.

The court was hearing an appeal by David Blunkett against a High Court ruling last year in which the Home Secretary was ordered to reconsider a decision by his predecessor, Jack Straw, to maintain an exclusion order against Mr Farrakhan, 68.

The order was initially imposed in January 1986 by Douglas Hurd, then Tory Home Secretary, after the American was accused of stirring up hatred against Jews.

Explaining last October, Mr Justice Turner said Mr Blunkett failed to demonstrate "more than a nominal risk" if Mr Farrakhan were allowed in for a limited period to address his followers. The judge's ruling has been suspended pending the appeal.

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

She told the Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips, sitting with Lord Justice Potter and Lady Justice Arden, that Mr Justice Turner had been wrong to interfere with Mr Blunkett's judgment.

"The Home Secretary was entitled to conclude that Mr Farrakhan is well known for expressing anti-semitic 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."

Mr Farrakhan, a father of nine based in Chicago, has been head of the Nation of Islam since 1978.

Nicholas Blake, QC, representing Mr Farrakhan, said Mr Straw had decided in 2000 - after a three-year review - to maintain an exclusion order on a man in his late sixties with failing health.

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

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

Mr Farrakhan had taken his message all over the world - even to Israel. The only country he had not been allowed to visit was Britain.

Mr Blake asked: "Is this over-protective, or restrictive, a nanny- state approach to discourse?"

The hearing continues.

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