Thaksin joins UK's dubious list
Tue, Nov 11, 2008
The Nation

Thailand - Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will join animal rights extremists, preachers of hatred, suspected terrorism advocates, lifestyle gurus, and rappers as people unwanted in England.

While the real reason behind the revocation of Thaksin and his wife Pojaman's visas by UK's Home Office last week has not been revealed but 10 days before that, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said a "presumption in favour of exclusion" policy is being introduced to make it easier to prevent extremists from entering the UK, the BBC website reported.

Smith said it would now be up to the individual concerned to prove they would not "stir up tension" in the UK.

"Through these tough new measures I will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country," she said.

"Coming to the UK is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life," she said.

According to the BBC website, a total of 230 people have been prevented from entering the UK since 2005, as their presence was deemed not to be "conducive to the public good". Those excluded include religious extremists, neo-Nazis and animal rights activists. About 80 of those barred have been so-called "preachers of hate".

Smith announced that for the first time a list of the names of those excluded is now to be published and shared with other countries.

Among those refused entry is Lebanon-based cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, the former head of the now-disbanded group al-Muhajiroun, which gained notoriety for praising the 9/11 hijackers.

In 2005 the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke used existing powers to exclude Mohammed as his presence was "not conducive to the public good".

Other preachers to have raised the ire of the authorities include Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, from the US, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who lives in Qatar.

In February 2008 Muslim cleric al-Qaradawi was refused a visa, because the Home Office said the UK would not tolerate the presence of those who sought to justify acts of terrorist violence.

The Egyptian-born cleric was described at the time as "dangerous and divisive" by Conservative leader David Cameron.

The Guardian reports that a month later a member of Israel's Likud Party was refused entry by current Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in relation to "unacceptable behaviour" on a visit to the UK in 2005.

It was feared the presence of Moshe Feiglin might have lead to inter-community violence because of his strident views.

A long-term ban against Louis Farrakhan had been in place for a number of years when he failed in 2002 to have it overturned by going through the courts.

Then Home Secretary David Blunkett said that a visit from the Nation of Islam leader, who had apparently described whites as devils, Jews as bloodsuckers and Hitler as a great man, would threaten public order.

But the exclusions have not just been directed at religious extremists - in 2004 Blunkett wrote to US animal rights activist Dr Jerry Vlasak, who had reportedly incited violence against vivisectionists, to say he would not be allowed into the UK.

Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are also among those from the US to have been denied entry to the UK. The American lifestyle guru and the rapper had been convicted of crimes, which formed the basis of their exclusions. Stewart, who served five months in a US jail in 2004 for lying to investigators about a share sale, was denied visa in June this year.


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