Centre for Social Cohesion campaigners to seek arrest of Hezbollah spokesman attempting to enter UK
March 8, 2009
Campaigners will seek arrest of Islamic radical
Campaigners from the Centre for Social Cohesion have pledged to seek an arrest warrant for Dr Ibrahim Moussawi, an Islamic extremist, who is due to visit Britain this March.
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
The think-tank said the Home Office would be "beyond hypocrisy" if it allowed Dr Ibrahim Moussawi into Britain just weeks after barring Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician, because of his alleged anti-Muslim views.
Dr Moussawi is a spokesman for the Lebanese-based militant group Hizbollah, the military arm of which is banned in Britain as a terrorist organisation.
He has allegedly called Jews "a lesion on the forehead of history" and said of Israel: "Pain is the only language that the enemy understands."
Douglas Murray, director of the CSC, has written to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, warning her that he will instruct lawyers to seek an arrest warrant for Dr Moussawi if he is allowed into the country.
The think-tank has already sought advice from barrister Paul Diamond, an expert in religious affairs law, on using war crimes legislation and a legal precedent from 2004 to seek, independently, an arrest warrant from a magistrate.
Mr Murray said: "This is the deepest hypocrisy, in fact, it is worse than hypocrisy on behalf of the British government.
"The government clearly do not have a grip on this. Britain is still a place where terrorists and terrorist supporters can come to incite and recruit."
Dr Moussawi is due to address a conference at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, on March 25, on the subject of political Islam.
Senior civil servants and police officers are among those who will pay up to £1,890 to attend the event, which is intended to improve understanding of radicalism.
Dr Moussawi has been granted a visa to visit Britain at least twice in the last two years but it is understood that he has yet to apply for permission to re-enter.
He was banned from visiting Ireland in 2007. On previous visits to the UK he has spoken at events organised by the Stop The War Coalition, and has been billed as a Hizbollah spokesman.
Apart from his role as a public face of the militant group, Dr Moussawi edits a weekly Hizbollah newspaper and was the political editor of a Hizbollah television station which is banned in the US, France and Spain because its output is seen as anti-Semitic.
In its letter to Ms Smith, the Centre for Social Cohesion said: "We would be grateful for a full answer as to why this policy is not being applied to Dr Moussawi in the light of recent exclusions of other non-nationals seeking to enter the United Kingdom.
"It is the position of the Home Office that individuals are banned from entry in the United Kingdom if 'they stir up tension and provoke violence to others'.
"Dr Moussawi would threaten community harmony and clearly breach this condition. If Dr Moussawi arrives in the UK we will instruct counsel to seek a warrant for his arrest."
In 2004, Bow Street magistrates' court considered an application for an arrest warrant for General Shaul Mofaz, then the Israeli defence minister, at the request of Palestinian groups.
The warrant was not granted, on the grounds that the minister would enjoy state immunity.
Any prosecution which would arise from such an arrest warrant would have to be authorised by the Attorney General.
Mr Wilders, 45, planned to show his controversial film which links the Koran to terrorism, but was banned from entering Britain because he was classed as someone likely to incite hatred and threaten "community harmony".
The politician had been invited by a peer to show his 17-minute documentary, entitled Fitna, and hold a question-and-answer session in Parliament.
He has urged the Dutch government to ban the Koran and has warned of a "tsunami" of Islam swamping the Netherlands.
After being turned back at Heathrow airport, Mr Wilders described the UK government as the "biggest bunch of cowards in Europe" and criticised them for barring a democratically-elected politician from a fellow European Union country.
The Conservatives have urged the Home Secretary to bar Dr Moussawi.
Sensitivity to religion cannot dictate the course of the law
Consistency demands that Hizbollah's spokesman be banned from entering Britain.
As The Sunday Telegraph reports today, the Government has yet to decide whether it will allow Dr Ibrahim Moussawi into Britain to give a talk at the University of London next month. Dr Moussawi is a spokesman for Hizbollah, the Islamist group responsible for a string of kidnappings, murders and bombings in Lebanon, and for violent jihad against Israel. He has yet to apply to the Home Office for permission to enter Britain for next month's lecture, but he has applied for, and been granted, a visa to visit this country twice before.
Not surprisingly, there have been some profound objections raised to allowing him into Britain again. Baroness Neville-Jones, the Conservatives' security spokesman, has noted in a letter to the Home Secretary that there should be "no double standards" on extremists, a view echoed by Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion. The Government, having banned Geert Wilders, the Right-wing Dutch MP who compares the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, from entering Britain, should not allow Dr Moussawi to come here.
As defenders of the right to free speech, we take the view that it would be better that both individuals should be allowed to speak in Britain, rather than that neither should. However, the objectors to Dr Moussawi are correct when they say that consistency in the application of the law is essential to its credibility and its justification. There can be no consistent justification for the Home Office allowing Dr Moussawi into Britain after it has prohibited Mr Wilders.
Inconsistency of that kind, however, seems likely. The Government has demonstrated before that it is reluctant to antagonise some of the more vociferous sectors of the British Muslim community. There was a particularly blatant example of that kind of behaviour two weeks ago, when the Charity Commission published its report into whether a London-based Palestinian charity, Interpal, had violated the rules governing charitable status. The report resulted from a BBC Panorama programme which alleged that Interpal donated money to causes linked to Hamas, the group designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union. The BBC programme's claim that Interpal donations were ending up with organisations affiliated to Hamas was emphatically denied by Interpal, but apparently confirmed last year by the US Treasury: it stated that the "Union of the Good" – a coalition of charities of which Interpal is part – "facilitates the transfer of tens of millions of dollars a year to Hamas-managed associations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
And yet the Charity Commission, despite a two year investigation, simply declined to scrutinise that evidence – although it would not merely breach charity guidelines if Interpal was donating money that found its way to Hamas: it could even be a criminal offence. Instead, the Commission contented itself with suggesting to Interpal that it "dissociate" itself from the Union of the Good. The contrast with the way the Charity Commission treats other British charities – private schools, for example – where a smallest infraction of the code is sufficient to generate the immediate threat that charitable status will be withdrawn, is obvious. The Commission insists it is not influenced by ministers. It is difficult to believe, however, that in this case, the importance to the Home Office of not offending a large and powerful part of the Muslim community did not dictate the outcome of the investigation.
This approach discredits the Government and it discredits the law. No group in Britain has the right to special treatment. We hope that, in future, the Government applies the law consistently and fairly to everyone.