Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has exceeded Britain’s threshold for free speech, according to more than half a million people who have signed a petition to ban the American presidential hopeful from entering the country due to some of his comments on Muslims, which they term "hateful."
“The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech," points out the petition filed November 28 with the UK government and parliament. "The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK ... rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful,” it says.
Mr. Trump’s rhetoric escalated after the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., on December 2, when he called for a ban on all Muslims trying to enter the US. His comments have been widely reported in the UK, provoking condemnation from Britain’s political figures, and bewilderment from much of the public.
“Those views are out there and they sound quite alien here because you wouldn’t hear that coming from a politician,” explained Max Foster, CNN’s London correspondent, in a news broadcast. “It’s not the culture here,” he said.
Trump's comments, coupled with his bitter fight with the Scottish government over the installation of 11 offshore wind turbines, which he said would blight the view from his luxury golf course in the city of Aberdeen, have rankled UK residents.
These include UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who has called the Republican presidential hopeful “stupid.” Cameron has also labeled some of Trump's comments about Muslims "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong," reported CNN.
The UK government has not said yet whether it will ban Trump from the country, but it did reply to the public petition, which has generated more than five times the number of signatures required for parliament to consider an issue eligible for debate.
In its written reply to the petition, the government confirmed that Home Secretary Theresa May “may exclude a non-European Economic Area national from the UK if she considers their presence in the UK to be non-conducive to the public good.”
“Coming to the UK is a privilege and not a right,” the government response says, “and she will continue to use the powers available to prevent from entering the UK those who seek to harm our society and who do not share our basic values.”
The petition originated in Scotland and was created by Suzanne Kelly, a resident of Aberdeen.
Ms. Kelly told The Guardian that she had been investigating Trump’s activities and the objections of local residents to his golf course development for several years.
“The more I looked at Donald Trump and the remarks he has made before entering the presidential race, the more my hackles were rising,” Kelly told the Guardian. “This man is no longer a joke in the corner, but someone who is aiming to become leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world,” she said.
“There are few things a person in my position can do against a person like that but make use of this country’s wonderful laws and procedures,” Kelly told the Guardian.
She had previously launched a petition calling on Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen to strip the real estate mogul of an honorary degree it awarded to Trump in 2010.
In December, the university announced that it had done so, over "a number of statements that are wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university" that Trump had made during his presidential campaign.