No haters allowed: Britain's new 'least wanted' list includes Michael Savage and Fred Phelps
The radio talk show host and hate-mongering Kansas preacher – along with other assorted extremists – are no longer welcome in England.
LONDON – Question: What new club includes holocaust deniers, Islamic extremists, a homophobic Kansas pastor, and conservative US talk show host Michael Savage?
Answer: all are individuals on a newly published 'Least Wanted' list of 16 people recently barred from entering the United Kingdom for fostering hatred or extremism.
Britain's government has been using new powers since 2005 to ban prospective visitors but is only now "naming and shaming" the targets – a decision it says was motivated so others could better understand the type of behavior it would not tolerate. The US also keeps a list of those not welcome in the country – for several years, the list included the singer Yusuf Islam, previously known as Cat Stevens (click here for more coverage).
Six out of 22 foreigners deemed 'persona non grata' by the UK since October have been kept secret. From the US, the 16 names include Michael Savage, a radio talk show host who was fired from hosting a regular show on MSNBC after telling a caller he should "get AIDS and die," as well as Stephen Donald Black, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who set up a racist website.
Other Americans on the list include Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr. and his daughter, Shirley. The pastor, from the Westboro Baptist Church, is known for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, claiming their deaths are divine punishment for society's tolerance of homosexuality.
Elsewhere on the list is Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky, and two Russian neo-nazis, Artur Ryno and Ravel Skachevsky.
Half of the 16 unwelcome visitors are from Muslim backgrounds, such as the preacher Abdullah Qadri al-Ahdal, the cleric and Palestinian parliament member Yunis al-Astal, the Kashmiri rebel leader Nasr Javed, and the Hezbollah militant Samir Kuntar, who was released from an Israeli prison after spending three decades in prison for his part in a deadly raid on Israel.
Jacqui Smith, Britain's Home Secretary, told a morning television chat show Tuesday: "I think it's important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it's a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won't be welcome in this country."
"Coming to this country is a privilege. If you can't live by the rules that we live by, the standards and the values that we live by, we should exclude you from this country and, what's more, now we will make public those people that we have excluded."
Not everyone agrees with her.
Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella body for various Muslim groups around Britain, told the Monitor that laws already existed to deal with anyone who incites violence or racial hatred.
"What the government appears to be doing instead is creating a sort of 'pre-crime,' " he added in an e-mail message. "We would also ask how effective the government's measures will be when it is a fact that a person's images and speech can easily be broadcast across borders via the Internet."
The British government's continuing headache about what to do with other awkward cases of controversial visitors was separately underlined this week by the arrival of Philip Nitschke, a "suicide expert" from Australia, who launched a series of public meetings Tuesday to demonstrate methods of euthanasia.
Despite being detained for nine hours at Heathrow by immigration officials, who reportedly told him that he must leave by the end of the week, he was eventually allowed to embark on a speaking tour. Dr. Nitschke was luckier than some other, slightly more high profile, names who have been barred from entering Britain in recent years, such as the rapper, Snoop Dogg. The artist was denied a visa in 2007 to take part shows that were part of a European tour alongside fellow rapper P Diddy.
More recently, Martha Stewart's convictions for obstructing justice came back to haunt her last year when she too was denied a visa. The cookery book author had planned to travel to speak at Britain's prestigious Royal Academy. Authorities here told her: 'Don't bother.'