Britain should ban Geller & Spencer, and deport Al-Arefe & Al-Habib - update BANNED 6/26/13

Britain should ban Geller & Spencer, and deport Al-Arefe & Al-Habib

by Sheila Musaji

Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of he EDL have invited Robert Spencer,  Pamela Geller, and Anders Gravers to speak at an EDL rally in Woolwich, Britain.  Geller, Spencer, Robinson, Carroll and Gravers are all members of the President’s Council of Stop Islamization of Nations (SION).  The only SION President’s Council member missing from this lineup is Debbie Robinson of the Q Society of Australia.  They define themselves and their mission as follows: “the President’s Council is a steering committee. It functions as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”

Some individuals have set up a petition to have Geller and Spencer banned from entering Britain.  As Jessica Elgot reported Muslim Leaders Fear Rise In Sectarian Tensions Over Saudi Preacher Mohammad Al-Arefe UK Visit :

Senior Muslim leaders in Britain have expressed concerns that a controversial Saudi preacher who arrived in London this week could exacerbate sectarian tensions.  They told HuffPost UK said they feared Mohammad Al-Arefe’s presence could “negatively impact the peaceful co-existance amongst the Muslim community”.

  ...  Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee told HuffPost UK: “I am alarmed that the EDL is planning this type of march in Woolwich.

“It is clear that the location, motivation and attendees at this march will incite hatred. Adding incendiary speakers such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer just fuels the fire.

“Before we have to pay the costs for the extra policing required for this demonstration the Home Secretary should consider using her discretion to ban these two speakers from entering the country.

“A ban should be enforced properly and physically stop people entering our borders. We cannot make the same mistake as we did with Sheikh Raed Salah.”

Hope Not Hate have sent an open letter to the home secretary with more than 2,000 signatures collected in less than 24 hours, asking for Geller and Spencer to be denied entry to the UK.

The letter reads: “We believe that their [Spencer and Geller’s] ultimate objective is to incite hatred against all Muslims and the consequences of their very presence in the UK will give encouragement to racists and extremists, who seek to use the awful murder of Drummer Lee Rigby to further their hateful agenda.  ...  “We believe that there is no place for such hate in the United Kingdom.” ...

The Hope Not Hate petition is here

BBC News reports that Theresa May is considering the possibility of banning Spencer and Geller.  They also report that

... A spokesman for Hope Not Hate told the BBC News website they are also unhappy about Mr Gravers’ planned presence at the EDL event but said he could not be denied entry to the UK because he was an EU citizen.

He denied the group wanted to stifle free speech and said it would also be against “Islamist hate preachers” entering the UK, adding: “We don’t need people coming to this country to cause trouble.”

Geller and Spencer have, of course, reacted to this in their usual “measured” way, by calling those who are objecting to their presence “goons”, “haters”, “fascists”, “SS-like thugs”, “supremacists”, “leftist pitbulls”.

I’m an American, not British, so I don’t understand a great deal about British law.  However, if it is possible to ban people from entry into the country because they are preaching an extremist and hateful message, then not only should Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer be banned - but also individuals like Mohammad Al-Arefe, a Saudi preacher of anti-Shia hate who arrived in London this week. 

Jessica Elgot reported that senior Muslim leaders in Britain have publicly expressed concern about Al-Arefe’s presence, and that they fear that could “negatively impact the peaceful co-existence amongst the Muslim community”.  She also reports that Fiyaz Mughal of Tell Mama said that:

... “they were tipped off about Al-Arefe’s presence via their hotline, and have been liaising with the Home Office.”

...  It is not the first time a foreign preacher has caused concern about sectarian tensions. In May, the Times reported fears about a Kuwaiti preacher, this time a Shia cleric, who is set to lead a new mosque in Gerrard’s Cross, Buckinghamshire.  Sheikh Yasser Al-Habib, 33, was imprisoned in 2003 for inciting sectarianism after attacking key figures of Sunni Islam. Al-Habib has denied that he preaches hate against Sunnis or other faiths.

And in May this year, an anti-Shia protest organised by Anjem Choudary, [leader of banned Islamist group Islam4UK, ostensibly protesting Assad’s actions in Syria, turned violent on Edgware Road.

It is believed to be the first anti-Shia demonstration on British streets. It was roundly condemned by both British Sunni and British Shia groups.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, a Sunni Muslim, told HuffPost UK he expected action from the Home Office. “These preachers are purely here to promote themselves and create divisions where none need to exist.

“Neither he [Al-Arefe], or Al-Habib should be allowed to do this. And the Home Office must take action on this issue. This is just another branch of hatred, and it’s bizarre the Home Office doesn’t listen to people who are concerned about this.

“People in the Shia and Sunni communities do not want to be associated with these people, and the Home Office has a duty to examine this.”

The Al-Khoei foundation, a leading British Shia institution, has also said they are gravely concerned about Al-Arefe’s presence in the UK, particularly as the conflict in Syria has taken on a sectarian nature, and leaders fear the effects of the Sunni-Shia violence could spill over into tensions in the British Muslim community.

... Several sources told HuffPost UK that Al-Arefe has not yet given any public speeches in London but this weekend he is due to speak at a London mosque, Al Mutada in Parsons Green, although HuffPostUK has not been able to verify this, and has asked the mosque for comment on Al-Arefe’s visit.

How is it possible that the British government can totally ignore mainstream British Muslims who are telling them that these individuals are extremists and should not be in the country? 

Since they are already in the country, it is too late to ban entry for Al-Arefe, and Al-Habib but perhaps British law would allow for them to be deported and banned from any future entry.  Sadly, other lunatic fringe characters like Anjem Chaudary were born in Britain, and so nothing can be done unless they actually break the law.

UPDATE 6/22/2013

Robert Spencer posted an article today Muslim hate preacher calls for jihad in Syria, then heads for London vacation in which he falsely claims “Anyway, this preacher of violence and hatred got into Britain with no problem and no controversy. The controversy is over whether Pamela Geller and I, who do not preach violence or hatred, will be allowed in.”

Actually, there was controversy and the Muslim community are asking for such hate preachers not to be allowed in the country (see above).  Curiously, although the Al Arabiya article that Spencer links to in his article spells the name of this Saudi preacher in the same way as other news stories have - Sheikh Mohamad al-Arefe - Spencer chooses to spell the name Al-Arifi - perhaps that is to make it more difficult to do a google search and make the connection that this is the same person. 

UPDATE 6/23/2013

The website of the EDL has published an update on the Woolwich Demo.  According to this, there will be no EDL demonstration after Robinson & Carroll’s “walk of honor”.  They say “In a welcome show of support and solidarity, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer of the U.S.-based American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Anders Gravers of the Denmark-based Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) and are expected to join Tommy and Kev in paying their respects to the memory of Lee Rigby and his service to his country.  ...  Everyone is still very welcome to join Tommy and Kev for the last mile of the walk, but only as “members of the public”. The walk into Woolwich is no longer an EDL demo, but a mark of respect for the men and women who have risked their lives to protect our liberties. So we ask that you do not come to promote the EDL but to show your appreciation of our armed forces. Please leave your EDL flags and gear at home and join the lads in the last mile of the walk just to show your pride and respect. You can bring a wreath or flowers if you want, and you will be able to lay them at the end of the walk.”  It is difficult to make out from this exactly what will happen, but it seem that they are attempting to distance whatever happens from the EDL.

It has also been reported that contrary to all of the claims that the EDL is a non-violent movement, John Parkin who was arrested for attempting to burn down the Rhyl mosque was an EDL activist

Richard Bartholomew has posted an article about Spencer & Geller’s upcoming trip to Britain in which he notes:

...  Spencer previously visited the UK in 2009, although at that time he wanted no association with the nascent EDL and he made noises about “libel” when it was suggested he had met figures from the group. For a time, Geller was ambivalent about the EDL, although she finally cemented links a year ago. In September, Yaxley-Lennon and Kevin Carroll attended an event organised by Geller in New York, which involved Yaxley-Lennon using someone else’s passport to enter the USA. Yaxley-Lennon’s subsequent arrest over the passport fraud was described by Geller as “shariah inspired victimisation”, and he and Geller asked Americans to make donations for his legal defence.

The Independent report - by Kevin Rawlinson – has not been received well by Spencer:

Why is it “right-wing” to fight for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for all people?…

“Anti-Muslim”: Leftists and Islamic supremacists favor this label because it implies that those who are fighting for freedom are actually against a particular group, and want to deny them rights rather than protect the rights of all…  We never speak about “all Muslims” in any way, or call for any illegal action or any action at all against innocent people.

… Rawlinson is lying outright. He made no attempt to contact me.

As ever with Spencer, the affected righteous outrage ignores a few issues.

First, it’s clear that Geller and Spencer are right-wing: Geller describes Barack Obama as a “mad commie clown”, and she has promoted claims that he is a secret Muslim and that there are mysteries about the circumstances of his birth and parentage (although she objects bitterly when anyone brings up an article that appeared on her website promoting the thesis that Obama’s father was Malcolm X, on the grounds that the piece was written by someone else and that she only semi-endorses its claims). They are also both closely allied with conservative groups and individuals.

Second, while it’s true that Geller and Spencer do pay lip-service to a distinction between “anti-Muslim” and “anti-Islam”, I’m not convinced that it’s anything more than a paper-thin rhetorical strategy – I discussed a libel action threat made by Geller over the anti-Muslim label here, and a similar complaint by Spencer here. Their allies include Babu Suseelan, a Hindu militant who claims that Muslims “breed like rats” but that Islam can be “wiped out”, and it was only bad publicly that prompted the two to cut links with John Joseph Ray, a man who openly called for violence against Muslims and others.

Meanwhile, Rawlinson has responded to the claim that he is “lying outright” by posting a screenshot of his request, which was sent to the Facebook page of their Stop Islamization of America organisation.

Rawlinson is not the only British media figure to be facing the duo’s wrath; an article in the Huffington Post by Jessica Elgot described them as “far-right, anti-Islam”, prompting Geller to call Elgot ”a less than affable Eva Braun”. The insult was derived from an old piece of abuse by Ann Coulter against Katie Couric; Elgot, who is Jewish and formerly worked for the Jewish Chronicle, says that the “the sheer volume of Nazi-themed insults” is “quite baffling”.

UPDATE 6/25/2013

See Pamela Geller is confused about what constitutes lies, lies, lies! for more updates on this story, particularly Geller and Spencer’s defenses of their positions and their shameful attacks on those who have spoken out against them.  The article contains detailed, sourced responses to their protestations of innocence.

UPDATE 6/26/2013

UPDATE:  I have just received an email from Hope Not Hate saying that “American anti-Muslim rabble-rousers Pam Geller and Robert Spencer have both been banned from entering the UK.”

They included this photograph

This has been confirmed by the Huffington Post and other publications.  And, Geller has posted a copy of the letter received from the British Home Office under the title Banned in Britain: UK Caves to Jihad.  In her usual “civilized manner” she says about this: “In a striking blow against freedom, the British government has banned us from entering the country. Muhammad al-Arifi, who has advocated Jew-hatred, wife-beating, and jihad violence, entered the U.K. recently with no difficulty. In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.”

Here is the text of the letter from the British Home Office (emphasis mine):

I am writing to inform you about the British government’s measures for excluding or deporting extremists under the Unacceptable Behaviour policy. The list of unacceptable behaviours covers any non-UK national whether in the UK or abroad who uses any means or medium including:

•writing, producing, publishing or distributing material,
•public speaking including preaching
•running a website
•using a position of responsibility such as a teacher, community or youth leader

to express views that:
•foment or justify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliegs,
•seek to provoke others to terrorist acts,
•foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts,
•foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.

The list is indicative and not exhaustive.

The Home Secretary has considered whether, in light of this list, you should be excluded from the UK. After careful consideration on 25 June 2013 she personally directed that you should be excluded from the United Kingdom on the grounds that your presence here is not conducive to the public good. The Home Secretary has reached this decision because you have brought yourself within the scope of the list of unacceptable behaviours by making statements that may foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.

And, of course, the rest of the Islamophobia echo chamber is as outraged as Spencer and Geller.  Bonni at Bare Naked Islam said “Great Britain already IS an Islamic Republic”.  Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna said “Shariah Rules the UK”. 

Now if the Muslim community can only get the Muslim hate preachers banned/deported or somehow totally sidetracked, that would be wonderful.