Page last updated at 04:06 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

MP Galloway to fight Canada ban

George Galloway
Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003

British MP George Galloway has said he will challenge the Canadian government's decision to ban him from entering the country.

Officials say he is banned because he recently spoke about providing financial support to Palestinian group Hamas, which is banned in Canada.

The leader of the Respect Party insists he is not a Hamas supporter and is not a threat to Canada's national security.

He is due to give a speech in Toronto at the end of this month.

Mr Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in London, described the ban as "idiotic".

"I am not a threat to Canada's national security. I'm just a politician with a different point of view to the Canadian government," he said.

"But, one way or another, I will be heard by those who want to hear me in Canada."

'Quoted extensively'

Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney said border officials made the decision because of Mr Galloway's support for the militant group Hamas.

Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Mr Kenney, said: "Our border security officials conduct an assessment of who's eligible to come to Canada and on the basis of that assessment, they concluded Mr Galloway would pose a national security threat to Canada."

He added: "Hamas is a banned terrorist organisation in Canada and this is an organisation that Mr Galloway has boasted in the past of providing support for."

Mr Galloway insisted he simply supported the right of the Palestinian people to elect their own leaders.

The anti-war MP had been due to speak at a public forum, Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar, in Toronto on 30 March.

Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 because of his outspoken comments on the Iraq war.

His expulsion followed comments on the Iraq war which Labour chairman Ian McCartney said "incited foreign forces to rise up against British troops".

In 2006 he was detained "on grounds of national security" at Cairo airport after heading to Egypt to attend a "mock trial" of then PM Tony Blair and then US President George Bush.

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