Home Office bans the voice of Hizbollah

Ibrahim Moussawi

Ibrahim Moussawi

The Home Office has rejected a visa application from Ibrahim Moussawi, Hizbollah media relations officer, banning him from attending a London seminar later this month.

There had been increasing pressure on the government to prevent him speaking at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies on March 23.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was previously thought to have been willing to admit the former head of political programming at the antisemitic Al Manar television station.

A Home Office spokeswoman said it could not comment on an individual case, but the JC understands the decision was taken on Friday to stop him entering the country over fears his appearance would “not be conducive to the public good”.

Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin said: “This is unequivocally the right decision because of the nature of Hizbollah and the influence of those who advocate on its behalf.  We are pleased that the government has recognised the perniciousness of this terrorist organisation.”

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust said: “We warmly welcome this decision. Hizbollah is a viciously antisemitic organisation and its activists should not be welcome in this country.”

Mr Moussawi has visited Britain on three previous occasions from his home in Beirut, having spoken at another SOAS conference and taken part in a Stop the War Coalition tour.

Meanwhile a report this week from Policy Exchange, which is regarded as the think-tank closest to David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, said that the Government should not fund Muslim groups that call for the destruction of Israel.

The report criticises the Government’s programme to combat extremism, arguing that it is too narrowly focussed on preventing violence while ignoring groups that promote militant ideas.

Instead, it calls for the government to set tougher conditions for engaging with Muslim groups, refusing support to those who, among other things, “call for or condone the destruction of UN states” or “support or condone terrorism anywhere in the world.”

The report explains: “To be clear, it is not proposed that being pro-Israeli is a precondition for engaging with government… Too much latitude has been afforded by the British state to vitriolic Islamist groups who are hostile to the very existence of Israel.”

The authors of the report, called Choosing Our Friends Wisely, are Shiraz Maher, a former member of the radical Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir and now a fellow at Policy Exchange, and Martyn Frampton, a research fellow at Cambridge University.

They argue that the Government’s Preventing Violent Extremism programme — costing £90 million over the past three years — is not working because it has sometimes funded “Islamist-influenced” groups which advance radical agendas.

Last updated: 4:03pm, March 18 2009