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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Farrakhan British ban stays
Louis Farrakhan
Mr Farrakhan has been banned from the UK since 1986
The government has won its appeal against the ruling that controversial American political leader Louis Farrakhan should be allowed to enter Britain.

On Tuesday, the Appeal Court overturned a High Court decision made last year to quash a 16-year ban on the Nation of Islam leader.

The government argued the 68-year-old could threaten public order if allowed to enter Britain.

Lawyers for Mr Farrakhan said they will appeal to the House of Lords.

I am pleased with today's ruling which makes clear that the home secretary is both best placed and democratically accountable for these decisions

David Blunkett
Home Secretary

Mr Farrakhan has been banned by successive home secretaries since 1986 when the then government barred him on the grounds he expressed racist and anti-Semitic views.

Three Court of Appeal judges headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips, backed the judgement of Home Secretary David Blunkett.

The ruling said Mr Blunkett's ban "did not involve a disproportionate interference with freedom of expression."

After the verdict, the home secretary said: "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."


But Dr Hilary Muhammed, Mr Farrakhan's representative in the UK, said the Appeal Court had acknowledged the minister posed no threat.

Sabiq Khan, solicitor for the Nation of Islam, told the BBC: "He is preaching a message of self-discipline, self-reliance, atonement and responsibility.

"He's trying to address the issues and problems we have in the UK, black on black crime and problems in the black community.

"It's outrageous and astonishing that the British Government is trying to exclude this man."
Hilary Muhammed, spokesman for UK Nation of Islam, outside court
Farrakhan's representatives are outraged

The lawyers had argued the ban contravened the European Convention of Human Rights, which is now enshrined in British law.

The Chicago-based leader has visited Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Israel and Libya.

The appeal case overturned Justice Michael Turner's ruling that there was no evidence of racial, religious or ethnic tensions between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Britain.

In their ruling the appeal judges said that since Mr Justice Turner's decision, "the events of September 11 had intervened".

They said it was a personal decision of the Home Secretary which was within his "wide margin of discretion", and that he was in a far better position to reach an informed conclusion than a court.

The government holds particular concerns about inflaming existing tensions from events in the Middle East.

'No violence'

After the ruling, Lord Janner of Braunstone QC, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "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.

"With our local elections next week, the BNP do not need encouragement from the likes of Farrakhan."

There was anger from senior British Jews when the High Court reversed the ban last year.

Mr Farrakhan is one of the most controversial black religious leaders in America.
Lord Greville Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust
Janner said it was a 'just decision'

His brand of Islam differs from the orthodox religion because it regards Elijah Mohammed, who died 27 years ago, as the last prophet, not the seventh century Mohammed, who founded Islam in Mecca.

But he has been trying to bring the Nation of Islam closer to the mainstream, represented in the US by the rival Muslim American Society.

His followers defend him as a respectable role model to young black men - preaching the virtues of self-respect, the family and Islam.

But to his enemies, Mr Farrakhan is at best an irresponsible rabble-rouser and at worst a dangerous racist and anti-Semite.

The father-of-nine has been dubbed a "black racist" after using inflammatory language in speeches.

In the past he has called white people "devils" and Jews "bloodsuckers".

He once called Judaism a "gutter religion" and said Adolf Hitler was a "wickedly great man".

But his followers say Mr Farrakhan has toned down his language in recent years and his tours have never prompted violence.

The BBC's Andy Tighe
"Louis Farrakhan is one of the most controversial black religious leaders in America"
Louis Farrakhan's lawyer Sadiq Khan
"Why is the UK so special?"
See also:

31 Jul 01 | UK
Farrakhan UK ban overturned
12 Mar 02 | UK
Profile: Louis Farrakhan
27 Feb 00 | Americas
Farrakhan bid for Islamic unity
15 Mar 02 | Newsmakers
Louis Farrakhan: Prophet or bigot?
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