Britain Still Bans Farrakhan

Associated Press/April 30, 2002

London -- The government won an appeal Tuesday to ban Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan from Britain on the grounds that his political views were a threat to public order.

Three judges sitting in the Court of Appeal said the government decision to ban the activist was based on fears that his "notorious opinions'' might provoke disorder.

The court said that Farrakhan would not be allowed to appeal the decision to the House of Lords, which is Britain's highest court. But Farrakhan's supporters said they would seek to appeal the decision somehow.

Last year, High Court Justice Michael Turner had ruled against the ban, saying the government failed to establish "objective justification'' for excluding Farrakhan.

The government appealed and said it had good reasons to bar Farrakhan from entering the country.

Monica Carss-Frisk, an attorney representing Home Secretary David Blunkett, said at a hearing last month that he was "well known for expressing anti-Semitic and racially divisive views, particularly at a time of political unrest in the Middle East.''

Ruling in favor of the government Tuesday, the three judges said the government ban took into account tensions in the Middle East and the risk of public disorder prompted by a visit by the Chicago-based activist.

Blunkett welcomed the decision and said Farrakhan's presence was "not conducive to good public order.''

Farrakhan's lawyer Nicholas Blake told the appeal court that his client had become a spiritual and political voice of the African-American community in the United States since the ban was imposed in 1986.

"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,'' Blake said.

Blake said Farrakhan had taken his message all over the world, to Commonwealth countries and even to Israel. The only country he had not been allowed to visit was Britain.

The ban was imposed first in 1986 by the government of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Successive administrations have argued that they were entitled to continue the ban because of fears that Farrakhan's presence could lead to public disorder.

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