The largest Muslim organization in the U.K. is urging the government to ban evangelist and preacher Franklin Graham from making an appearance in Britain later this month.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella organization for hundreds of Muslim groups, has offered its support to calls from three parliament members and extensive public outcry to deny the preacher a visa for spreading, what they are calling, “hate speech.”
Opponents are accusing Graham of inciting hatred toward Muslims and the LGBTQ community and are urging the government not to allow him into the country.
In a statement to The Guardian, MCB said,“In the past the government has banned individuals whom they claim are ‘not conducive to the public good’. Mr Graham’s remarks are on record and clearly demonstrate a hatred for Muslims and other minorities.”
The MCB continues, “We would expect the government to apply its criteria here. If it does not, it will send a clear message that it is not consistent in challenging all forms of bigotry.”
Opponents are citing instances when Graham described Islam as “evil” and a “religion of war,” and when he supported Russian leader Vladimir Putin for opposing the “homosexual agenda.”
Members of the public have started an online petition which, according to Newsweek, has more than 8,000 signatures on it calling for the home secretary to deny Graham a visa.
Others are coming to Graham’s defense, and in some cases are even calling the British government out as discriminating against Christians. Writer Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch wrote, "Would anyone be calling for the banning of Graham from the UK if he had called Christianity 'evil'?"
He continued, "[The MCB] bans foes of jihad terror and critics of Islam while letting in jihadis. The Home Office recently banned Martin Sellner, Brittany Pettibone, Lauren Southern and Lutz Bachmann from entering, all for the crime of opposing jihad terror and Sharia oppression, and thereby made it clear that it is more authoritarian and unwilling to uphold the freedom of speech than ever – at least when it comes to criticism of Islam, Muslim rape gangs, and mass Muslim migration."
Spenser also noted that he and commentator Pamela Geller were banned from entering the U.K. five years ago after speaking on Islam and jihad.
Spenser wrote, "Just days after Geller and I were banned, the British government admitted Saudi Sheikh Mohammed al-Arefe. Al-Arefe has said: 'Devotion to jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls, and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honor for the believer. Allah said that if a man fights the infidels, the infidels will be unable to prepare to fight."
"And Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri's preaching of hatred and jihad violence was so hardline that he was banned from preaching in Pakistan, but the UK Home Office welcomed him into Britain," he continued.
Spencer also writes that the UK Home Office admitted to letting Shaykh Hamza Sodagar into Britain despite him having said: "If there's homosexual men, the punishment is one of five things. One – the easiest one maybe – chop their head off, that's the easiest. Second – burn them to death. Third – throw 'em off a cliff. Fourth – tear down a wall on them so they die under that. Fifth – a combination of the above."
As of now, no decision has been made on whether Graham will be allowed into the country. Graham is scheduled to be the featured speaker at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Festival of Hope in Blackpool on September 21.
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