Does our new Government condone terrorist extremism?

Less than one month after the Conservative-led coalition took office, Vindex is amazed to read media reports that officials have granted ‘extremist Islamic lecturer, Dr Zakir Naik,’ a visa to enter the UK where he will appear at London’s Wembley Arena and in Sheffield. When the Indian last came to Britain in 2006, David Davies – the Conservative MP for Monmouth – described him as a ‘hate-monger’, and he has been described by some moderate Muslims as a ‘truth-twister’ and a ‘Wahabi’. Here are some of his sayings, according to newspaper reports:

“If Osama bin Laden is terrorising America the terrorist … I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist.”

“It is a blatant secret that this attack on the twin towers was done by George Bush himself.”

Referring to the promiscuous behaviour of pigs, “‘In America, most people consume pork. Many times after dance parties, they have swapping of wives. Many say, ‘You sleep with my wife and I will sleep with your wife’. If you eat pigs then you behave like pigs,”

“All Muslims who change their faith should be executed.”

The Home Office, however, has indicated that they are not planning to ban Naik. The UK Border Agency, a Home Office department, said: ‘Each case is considered on its own merits. When assessing a visa application, we will consider the previous conduct of the individual and we will ensure the UK does not provide a platform for the promotion of violent extremism.’

Although Dr Naik is a controversial figure, not least in Muslim circles, he is not your average Mad Mullah. His deep knowledge of the common elements between Islam and the other major world religions is impressive. Nonetheless, if the quotations attributed to him above are in any way accurate, he is not a suitable person to be admitted to this country. This is a challenge to our new Government, in particular to David Cameron (who has spoken out against unsuitable foreign visitors when in opposition) as well as to his new Home Secretary, Teresa May.

Our primary concern, however, lies with the attitude revealed in the Home Office responses in this case, which appear to imply that officials are continuing to follow a lax policy in this sensitive area regardless of the change of government. Did they consult their new ministers before issuing the visa to Dr Naik?  Or did they blithely assume that ‘their’ policies must be maintained whatever the nature of the Government in power? In that case, of course, there would be little point in going to the trouble and expense in holding elections at all. Vindex therefore simply asks, in the spirit of transparency trumpeted by the new coalition, that Mrs May makes an urgent statement, making it clear whether or not Ministers were involved in this decision; and if so, what led them to grant the visa. If they were not involved, then her department is clearly out of control and radical changes are needed. For a start, the officials concerned might be among the very first to be dismissed of the 300,000 public servants due to lose their jobs as part of the Government’s cuts.

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