Geller and Spencer had reportedly planned on speaking at an EDL protest in South East London where Islamic extremists recently killed British soldier Drummer Lee Rigby. The BBC reported last week that a British lawmaker asked Home Secretary Teresa May to ban Geller and Spencer — who feature prominently in CAP’s report on the Islamophobia network in America, Fear, Inc. — from entering the country to speak at the EDL event. “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,” Labour Party MP Keith Vaz said in a letter to May. “Adding incendiary speakers such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer just fuels the fire.”
And May has done just that. In letters to both Geller and Spencer, a Home office official noted that Geller has previously said that al-Qaeda “is a manifestation of devout Islam” and that Spencer has said that Islam “is a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers.” Citing the government’s “Unacceptable Behaviour” policy, the letters informed the anti-Muslim activists that they are not welcome in the U.K. because of their extremist views that are “not conducive to the public good.”
The letter adds: “The Home Secretary considers that should you be allowed to enter the UK you would continue to espouse such views. … You are therefore instructed not to travel to the UK as you will be refused admission on arrival.”
The Guardian reported last month that since Rigby’s murder, Muslim communities across the U.K. were “facing a sustained wave of attacks and intimidation” and that more than 200 such incidents had been reported, including attacks on 10 mosques and an EDL rally outside the Prime Minister’s residence “that ended with bottles being thrown and 13 arrests.” EDL graffiti was also found on a Somali cultural center in London that arsonists had set fire to after Rigby’s death.
The violence and intimidation prompted Muslim groups in the U.K. to demand action. “This is the latest in a series of attacks on Muslim institutions since the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby,” said British Muslim leader Farooq Murad referring to the attack on the Somali cultural center, adding, “The British Muslim community came out in droves to condemn this murder, and it is despicable that Muslims should be held to account and suffer in this way.”
Progressive British blog Left Foot Forward called the Home Office’s move “counterproductive“:
These people already self-pityingly style themselves as a silent majority whose opinions are repressed by the state. Every time one of their number talks you can set your watch because it is a certainty that at some point they will claim they are “not allowed to talk about Islam/Muslims/immigrations etc”. [...] To put it in free speech terms, other people should also be free to hear what Spencer and Geller have to say just as those of us reading this article are – and free to reject their twisted reasoning, if you can call it that. Banning them for what they might say is also dangerous territory. Free speech within the law should be paramount. If they break British law then they should be asked to leave. The worst thing to do would be to allow them to portray themselves as free speech martyrs.
CAP’s Matt Duss writes: “It’s not something I imagined I’d ever have to say, but here it is: Geller and Spencer should be allowed to speak. Our societies are strong enough to survive their stupidity.”