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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Is it right to let Farrakhan visit the UK?
The controversial US black political leader Louis Farrakhan is free to visit the UK, following a court decision.

Farrakhan, leader of the US-based Nation of Islam, had been barred from Britain since 1986 because of his controversial views on race.

The authorities argued that his "anti-Semitic and racially divisive views" were not conducive to the public good.

But his lawyers successfully challenged the government using the Human Rights Act.

Have the judges made the right decision? Should Farrakhan be allowed into the UK, regardless of his views?

HAVE YOUR SAY I'm not convinced that there is any "absolute" right to free speech, though we might want most people to be allowed to say most things at most times! And again, Mr Farakhan may be a reformed character, as he claims. But he has said some inflammatory things in the past, and I do wonder. Should the opinion of several democratically elected Home Secretaries really be set aside on the say-so of a judge?
Mick from Kent, UK

Louis Farrakhan has stirred up so much bitterness between blacks and whites in America

Andrew, UK
Louis Farrakhan has stirred up so much bitterness between blacks and whites in America, why let him do the same in Britain? I also find it strange how this racist bigot is well respected by many Americans. Do these same people respect the leader of the Ku Klux Klan or is black racism accepted whereas white racism is condemned? In my view racism is racism - black or white!
Andrew, UK

I realise that some people are bound to compare Mr Farrakhan's visit to demos by the NF/BNP. But I feel a comparison with David Irvine, who lost a recent liable trial. Both spout extremely offensive rubbish, and both use legitimate and respected views to cover their blatant racism, (Islam, and academia respectively). And for any one reading this who doesn't think Mr Irvine isn't a racist, they ought to read his writings on the recent riots in Bradford. Our society does not ban Mr Irvine, but we collectedly ignore him for the best part. And I suggest that we do the same to Mr Farrakhan.
Solomon Drury, UK

Whilst I have only read second-hand what Mr Farrakan and his movement have said, he obviously advocates racist and sexist views which I personally abhor. It seems he also does a great injustice to both the Islamic and the Christian faiths and comes across as a very bitter, twisted and vengeful character who could be very dangerous if he gets to influence impressionable people. However as a supporter of free speech it is clear to me that we cannot and should not stop him coming to the country and saying what he likes. In return, we, the people of the UK, should exercise our own right of free speech to let him know just how unwelcome he, his movement and his views are in this country.
Caroline, UK

Restricting freedom of expression is something to talk about

Shawn, Washington, USA
Why would you even consider banning somebody from your country because you don't like his views? Farrakhan is not worthy of this attention, but restricting freedom of expression is something to talk about. Eminem nearly being banned from Australia and Canada are some other examples of this bizarre fear of people who do not think or act in the mainstream. I'm glad I live in a place where people are allowed to be extreme.
Shawn, Washington, USA

Out of curiosity, I visited the NOI web site. Among many racist statements we find the following "We believe that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited". Correct me if I'm wrong somebody, but would this not be a violation of the same Human Rights Act that Mr Farrakhan has just made use of?
Mick B, U.K.

Now that we have let Farrakhan in, the next step is to allow the BNP to set up offices in every ethnic centre. If the Government can't stop this racist idiot coming into the UK, it will no longer be possible to contain the BNP in their fascist activities.
Raj Patel, UK

I am not a Farrakhan apologist but if Jean Marie Le Pen was allowed to visit the UK and address a group in Parliament then Farrakhan should be allowed in the UK as well. On another note it is offensive to black people to refer to Farrakhan as a "black leader" as Peter Sissons did yesterday on BBC News. How does he qualify to be a black leader? I do not hear anyone refer to Le Pen as a white leader. Please stop referring to any black man with notoriety as a "black leader"
Seyi Adesanya,UK

Why stop a man that has reformed

Hassan, UK
His very purpose of coming here is to convey his new feelings to his followers, so that they may change too, Lets not stop him. Why create such a media frenzy in silly season possibly sparking more riots in the black community due to the frustration caused by the ill-founded hysteria, victimising a reformed member of the black American community. Why is the leader of the BNP not stopped from speaking or running for elections if Farrakhan can be? Why are known members of Combat 18 not stopped from receiving training in Serbia by people who are known to have ethnically cleansed people? Why stop a man that has reformed, and does not have any history of violence?
Hassan, UK

You have probably noticed that the views from the USA are that he should be allowed into the UK hopefully never to return to the US. This man, actually, does not make headlines in the USA and, as in most cases of extremism, his followers are a minority. Let him in but don't make him newsworthy, that way everyone wins.
Bill, USA (ex-pat)

When I was a teenager I was invited by a school friend to a Nation of Islam prayer meetings. I found the sect to be unduly dogmatic, using numerology and skewed interpretations of Islamic teachings to justify their somewhat outlandish mythologies.

I have since learnt from many African Americans that the NOI has earned a lot of respect around US cities through the outreach work they do, instilling a sense of pride and purpose in many young black men who might otherwise struggle to find worthwhile role models. I think it is both brave and proper for Farrakhan to persist in speaking out on issues that most people in the public eye regard with fear and trembling: racial inequality and its attempt devalue and ultimately obliterate the individual. It is also important not to forget the underlying legacy of slavery and discrimination that makes a man like Farrakhan possible, the BNP have no such excuse.
Chris, UK

Louis Farrakhan is yet another one in a long line of contemptible human beings that use religion as a vehicle to further their own political agenda and/or appease their own thirst for power. They come in all colors and religions, but they all have the same goal. They think nothing of manipulating a person spiritually for their own selfish purposes. Throw in a little hate at a common "enemy", and you have the worst kind of power monger. Keep an eye on this guest when he comes to visit. He is not trustworthy.
Faye, USA

Louis Farrakhan should never allowed to set foot on British soil. We have worked very hard to reach the level of racial harmony we enjoy. But as we can see from the recent racial rioting, that harmony can be quite fragile. We certainly do not need a disillusioned right-winger like Louis Farrakhan to come along and set us back years.
Alex White, UK

Too often in the media we see articles about black men in trouble with the law for one reason or another. How often do you see positive images being published in the front and middle pages of a newspaper about black people? For many of my people there is no hope other than the fortnightly handout from the government. How many "white middle class" people have meeting Nelson Mandela as their number one choice of the "person they would most like to meet"? Yet it is these same people who will overlook that experienced black person for that promotion again and again and again.

I have been invited to and have attended Nation of Islam meetings. I hear the message - a lot of which I don't agree with. But at the end of the day (for me) they are trying to unite black people to give them a hope that their lives will not end with a bullet in the back, or as an out patient at the local mental hospital. Let Minister Farrakhan come - and allow us to make up our own minds.
Barbara Brown, S. London

After the recent Manchester and Bradford protests and racial fights all we need is another guy to come and state his point of view. Inciting innocent, deprived people is just about the easiest job to do. I cannot say Farrakhan's intentions will be bad but they will not be certainly good for the people of this country. People who hold such extreme views should be banned from public speeches and should be banned from the country. The media should create awareness among the people that it would be to their own good to discourage such fundamentalists.
Dilip, UK

It seems that Mr Turner's decision has been made on a detail of law, not on common sense and public opinion. After all, what is law if not a reflection of current public opinion and common sense? Freedom of speech is fundamentally important, but views from anyone must never be allowed to be directed at qualities of humanity such as race.

This man has a proven history of incitement to provoke racism/fascism and should be banned on those grounds alone. Some of history's darkest moments are centred on race persecution, and it seems that we are seeing a re-emergence of this in places like Serbia, Macedonia and Zimbabwe. Let's not stoke the already sensitive climate in the UK by letting this person in.
Paul G., UK in Australia

Reading the comments that have gone before, it seems to me that the admission of Farrakhan into the UK is achieving the exact opposite of what he stands for: the unity of Whites, Blacks, Asians, Muslims, Jews and Christians. We are united in our opposition to this man and his racist politics. Ironic, isn't it? Maybe Farrakhan is just what is needed to bring us together in a common cause.
Kaye, UK

It is naive, in my opinion, to think that this Government cares so much about the people, Black people in particular, that they feel they had to "protect" them from the presence of Minister Louis Farrakhan. Minister Farrakhan has proven himself to be a peace-maker all over the planet. With all the racial animosity going on in the UK, a peace-maker is definitely needed. I believe that the UK government fears the positive progress of the Nation of Islam in light of their inability (or unwillingness) to do anything to end racial hostilities there.

Like most people in the UK, I've never heard anything Farrakhan has said, apart from the usual hysterical treatment from the mass media. So I would prefer to hear him for myself and if I think what he is saying is racist, I will condemn him. Also, I think that we should at least credit black British people with some intelligence to reject him if he is the maniac character portrayed by Blair and the tabloids.
Dan, UK

Grudgingly, I accept that Mr Justice Turner has probably made the right decision. You can't ban someone because they MIGHT say something which is illegal, or incite illegal acts by others. Prosecute them when they do so. However, I feel incredibly sorry for true followers of Islam, who's peaceful faith is twisted by Farrakhan's racist twaddle. The scenes of racial violence recently in the UK broke my heart - the ramblings of an inarticulate, narrow-minded bigot are not what the UK needs.
Ruth , USA (ex-UK)

As a black person living in England, I cannot deny that racism does not exist as I have experienced it on several occasions. However, many blacks who have any real purpose in life, share my view that Louis Farrakhan is nothing other than a self-glorified thug followed by more thugs in dark suits and bow ties with the only purpose of recruiting for hell. It does not take a genius to realise that there are better ways of fighting for equality but I urge you, Farrakhan is NOT the answer.
Regina Baidoo, UK

This is the last thing we need in these tense times

Steven, UK
As a member of the black community living in the UK I don't believe Farrakhan should be allowed to come here. At a point when we need more racial harmony and a cooling of feelings and emotions this is the last thing we need in these tense times. Should he come here and if we have more race riots he will not be the one who has to live through them and pick up the pieces afterwards. He is not the one who will find it hard to get a job because of the colour of his skin, because he has stirred up anti-black feelings. I hope the Government appeals and gets the decision overturned.
Steven, UK

Farrakhan presents two images, one to the general public of "peace" and "conciliation," and the other to his followers of the triumph of the Black Muslims over the "white devil" in what his own thinly veiled rhetoric promises will be an orgy of genocide. Since a basic tenet of the NOI is the belief that blacks are the Bible's chosen people but their chosen status was hijacked by the Jews and white Christianity, it is laughable to suggest that Mr Farrakhan or his followers could be anything other than black supremacist racists.
John, USA

I find it amazing that on that on the same day we allow a black supremacist into our country the far-right NF are banned from marching in Birmingham. One rule for one, one rule for another.
Matt, England

Farrakhan has a 47 year history of honourable steadfastness to truth, justice and principle

Edward, USA
Farrakhan has a 47 year history of honourable steadfastness to truth, justice and principle. The only ones who fear him are those sheep-like individuals who are herded by the mass media and never hear one of his speeches and those wicked ones who feel that Farrakhan represents a threat to their power and/or influence. For goodness sake, this man has brought together a million people not once but TWICE to the US Capital and there was not one incident. That doesn't seem like the work of a hater to me.
Edward, USA

As a resident of North America I get to see first hand the hatred that is part of Farrakhan's message. Remember Hitler? Please don't let him in, but if you do, keep him.
Mark Smith, Brit in Canada

Farrakhan should be banned from entering as he promotes racism, especially in light of the recent race riots in the UK. The religion of Islam forbids racism thus it is important for every one to understand that Farrakhan is not a Muslim. The Nation of Islam is considered by all Muslims to be non-Muslim, thus its name should not fool any one. The Government should also ban the BNP, for the same reasons that it wishes to ban Farrakhan from coming to the UK.
Jawed Iqbal, Oldham, UK

We have fairly good legislation here which balances freedom of speech with the need for public order

Paul, UK
We have fairly good legislation here which balances freedom of speech with the need for public order, and if Farrakhan breaches these, then he should be tried. I am Jewish and his views offend me, but I don't see why he shouldn't be let in. Ahmed, most intelligent people realise that this man's views do not represent Islam.
Paul, UK

Of course he shouldn't. People don't deliberately let known disruptive influences into their home or family, and our Government is elected to take as good care of our country. I hope this decision by the court is overturned on appeal.
Patricia, UK in USA

What is wrong with the authorities in this country? By allowing this bigot into the country, Mr Justice Turner has demonstrated how out of touch with public opinion the authorities are. We have had enough trouble here, and the last thing we need is another fascist who will increase the likelihood of more violence.
Raj, UK

As someone who lives in NYC, which has borne most of the brunt of Farrakhan's message of hate, I strongly urge the UK NOT to let this man into your country. Don't let yourselves become like the United States where there's an increasing undercurrent of distrust among the races and where race rules everything. I'm sceptical as to any good intentions he might have.
Maria, USA

It is a ruling based on legal reason, not public opinion

Ed, UK
I find it extraordinary that people are seriously criticising the ruling as if the judge was expressing personal support for Farrakhan's views. It is a ruling based on legal reason, not public opinion, and rightly so. The rationale of some objectors appears to be that this man would encourage racist violence - a naive view, not least because such a catalyst has not proved necessary recently. The fact is, there is a problem with racism in the UK. I can't help feel that what the objectors really fear is the possibility that the issues surrounding race in the UK will now remain in the spotlight and perhaps require some thought, rather than conveniently drift to one side allowing the public to carry on in the arrogant and mistaken belief that we have better race relations than anywhere else in the world. We don't; we just don't like to discuss the issue. Violent outbursts are the result and therein lies the real problem, not with one American preacher.
Ed, UK

It's nice that you're letting him in. Feel free to keep him.
Tom Byrne, USA

The judge can only apply the law as it exists. So Mr Farrakhan is allowed in. However I hope there is a police presence on hand at all public appearances to ensure that he is arrested and deported the moment he breaches the discrimination laws or is guilty of enticement of racial hatred.
K. Sadler, UK

Allowing this strange ideology with their unfortunate choice of name to propagate the UK means we will have to work harder in our example as real believers and seekers, for ourselves and for our communities. Islam is for everyone.
Mahmoud, UK

As a Muslim I detest Mr Farrakhan's racist, bigoted views and his desecration of Islam. But to challenge his hatred it has to be confronted, banning him would only make him more iconic (demonic?) and powerful than he already is. Mr Farrakhan needs to exposed for what he is - a vile hateful man.
Zak, London, UK

We let in a convicted rapist from the US (Tyson), we allow the BNP to march unmolested - why shouldn't we add another sick, deluded person to the list? The downside of being free to express our views means that we have to hear rubbish like this. Freedom of speech is not selective, nor should it be.
Denise Blackstock, UK

As a practising Muslim, I find his views offensive

Ahmed, England
As a practising Muslim, I find his views offensive, immature and wholly unproductive. He has done more damage to Islam than good.
Ahmed, England

Farrakhan's views are repugnant to me, but I defend his right to express them. Let him come, so that his arguments can be expressed and then deconstructed.
John, UK

Well, we can hardly give the BNP and NF airtime yet ban Farrakhan, can we?
Ben Drake, York, UK

Out of interest I took a Nation of Islam magazine from one of the hawkers hanging round Lewisham in London. It was full of anti-white rubbish and, perhaps even more worrying, sexist ideas about women being subservient to men. I feel that Nation of Islam is a religious front for bigoted views similar to those held by the BNP.
Richard N, UK

If you want him, please take him

Jim, USA
Take him, please. This man has shown that he is against all of the things that make modern society great. He wants to keep women in a low status; he wants to prevent mixing of 'races'. He has called Hitler a 'great man'. If you want him, please take him. Keep him as well. WE don't need racially motivated people over here. We need open-minded people who are willing to work with everyone.
Jim, USA

Presumably members of the BNP and National Front will also have restraining orders lifted on the grounds of human rights. Black supremacy is just as racist as white supremacy.
John B, UK

There is a libertarian case, which reluctantly I accept, for allowing Farrakhan's entry to the UK. He is still, however, a bigot, a Jew-baiter and a charlatan, whose Million Man March was the first officially segregated demonstration in Washington since the Ku Klan Klan marched in 1925.
Oliver Kamm, UK

I would be perfectly happy for this fool to be admitted to the UK, provided that the same 'courtesy' is shown towards the leaders of other movements that believe in apartheid. Examples include France's National Front and the USA's Aryan Nation. If these groups are excluded, then one can only assume that the judiciary is pandering to the N.o.I. to promote its political correctness and avoid the inevitable, and increasingly boring, accusation of institutional racism that greets any decision against a minority group or individual. It is also curious that the courts restrict the activities of legal political parties such as the BNP, yet are happy for foreign movements to visit the country and say and do as they please. There is a strong stench of hypocrisy about this verdict.
Charlie Jordan, UK

Allowing an individual who incites racial intolerance has all the hallmarks of stupidity

Julian, England
Mr Justice Turner does his position proud with his decision to allow Farrakhan into the UK. Given the recent troubles within the country, allowing an individual who incites racial intolerance has all the hallmarks of stupidity. Farrakhan should not be allowed into this country and Mr Justice Turner should be found a new role more suited to his abilities.
Julian, England

Mr Farrakhan should be welcomed here, right up to the minute he makes a single racist remark and then he should be escorted to his plane. Those are the rules for everyone else who visits the world's most open and just society, why should they be different for him? I am white and middle class and I don't feel threatened by the man or his organisation. His views are rarely published here. Perhaps if they were we would be able to judge for ourselves rather than having a Nanny State tell us what is right or wrong. There seems to be a disproportionate number of young black men ending up in jail here. If he can help prevent people taking that wrong turn in life, whatever their colour or creed, then that could only be a good thing.
Richard, UK

After the recent problems in Bradford this is all this country needs - a known inciter of racial hatred. It is the wrong decision to allow him in. The first priority must be to protect the interests of the majority of people in this country who wish to live peacefully in a multicultural society. Giving publicity to these extremists will not help.
David, UK

I can not imagine Farrakhan's intentions for visiting are any good. I could be wrong though; perhaps he just wants to visit some quaint little villages, eat some good fish and chips, and see Big Ben!
James, USA

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See also:

31 Jul 01 | UK
Farrakhan UK ban overturned
31 Jul 01 | UK
Profile: Louis Farrakhan
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