LONDON: An American Christian preacher who caused global uproar by threatening to burn the Koran has been barred from visiting Britain, the British government said on Wednesday.
Florida Pastor Terry Jones, whose threat to burn Islam's holy book on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks last year provoked widespread condemnation, had been invited by a group that is critical of Islamic immigration into Britain.
“The government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK. Numerous comments made by Pastor Jones are evidence of his unacceptable behaviour,” a spokesman for Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry) said.
“Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right, and we are not willing to allow entry to those whose presence is not conducive to the public good,” he said. “The use of exclusion powers is very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate.”
Jones, who heads a tiny church called the Dove World Outreach Center, told Britain's Sky News he was “disappointed” by the ban.
“We would ask it be reconsidered and the ban lifted,” Jones said.
“We feel this is against our human rights to travel and freedom of speech.”
A group called “England Is Ours”, on its website, said it had invited Jones to visit Britain and “join us in a series of demonstrations against the expansion of Islam and the construction of Mosques here in the UK.”
Other groups had urged the British government to ban Jones.
Jones dropped his Quran-burning plan after it provoked outrage across the Muslim world and US President Barack Obama said the action would have helped Al-Qaeda.