LONDON — Britain on Wednesday barred firebrand US pastor Terry Jones from the country, saying the controversial preacher who had threatened to burn the Koran was guilty of “unacceptable behavior.”
“The government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded pastor Terry Jones from the UK,” said a spokesman from the Home Office, or interior ministry.
Jones, who triggered an international furor last year with plans to burn the holy book of Islam on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, said he was disappointed with the ban.
“We are very disappointed. We would ask that they reconsider, that the ban be lifted,” he told Sky News television.
He was originally invited to speak in Britain at a rally organized by far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) on February 5 in Luton, a town just north of London.
The EDL says it fights what it calls the spread of militant Islam in Britain.
But the group withdrew its offer in the face of public opposition to the visit and concerns that Jones’ presence could inflame tensions in the town, which has a significant Muslim population.
After the invite was retracted, the radical evangelist said he still planned to visit Britain and was thinking of organizing an event in London. He also said he would fight any attempt to block him from visiting the country.
Announcing the ban on Wednesday, the Home Office said many comments made by Jones provided “evidence of his unacceptable behavior”.
“Coming to the UK is a privilege not a right and we are not willing to allow entry to those whose presence is not conducive to the public good,” said the spokesman.
“The use of exclusion powers is very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate.”
The pastor however insisted that he was not against Islam and said he had personal reasons for wanting to visit as his daughter lived in Britain.
“I believe that our visit there could be beneficial,” he said.
“We are by no means against Muslims, we are not against Islam… We have always spoken out only against the radical element of Islam.”
“My daughter lives in England. My grandchildren are English and live in England,” he added.
Jones leads the tiny Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida.
Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia training exercises at ‘The Base’: report
One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.
"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.
"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."
Oklahoma police searching for man who shot Taco Bell employee in dispute over the drive-thru
Police are searching for a man who allegedly shot a Taco Bell employee early Saturday morning.
"The employee was shot in the leg after asking the customer to pull forward in the drive-thru," KFOR-TV reported Saturday. "The customer argued, but eventually pulled forward, and that’s when he pulled out a gun and shot the employee."
‘Not surprised at all that the president sides with the white nationalists’: Native American Congresswoman
One of the first two Native America women blasted President Donald Trump for siding with white nationalists on Saturday.
Following the fatal "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017, Trump claimed there were "fine people" on both sides when he defended the alt-Right and Neo-Nazi event.
Two years later, Trump has gone even further, blaming only the anti-fascist activists confronting far-right marching in Portland, Oregon in a way that reminds many of the invasion of Charlottesville.
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) was asked about Trump's tweet by CNN's Ana Cabrera.