Britain ban for flag-burning pastor Terry Jones

Pastor Terry Jones

Pastor Terry Jones

An extremist American pastor who said Judaism was “of the devil” and threatened to burn a Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks has been excluded from Britain.

A Home Office spokesman said the decision was because of “numerous comments” by Mr Jones that were “evidence of his unacceptable behaviour.”

Members of the interfaith Council of Imams and Rabbis had sent home secretary Theresa May letters appealing for her to stop Mr Jones entering Britain.

Referring to the “strong negative impact on community cohesion”, they said: “His visit and his speech will inevitably strengthen the ideology of the far right and heighten their profile.”

Mr Jones, who preaches at the Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, said in a deposition in August 2010 that he believed non-Christian religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism were of the devil.

Last month Mr Jones boasted about coming to the UK to speak at a rally of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), only to be disinvited later because of his allegedly racist and homophobic views.

Before the Home Office decision he had accepted an invitation to speak at a series of demonstrations next month organised by a new group called England Is Ours (EIO).

The EIO claims to be dedicated to alerting people of “the growing menace and influence of Islam”.

The Home Office spokesman said: "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded [him] from the UK.

"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.

"The use of exclusion powers is very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate."

Last week Mr Jones said that on March 20 he is holding “Judge the Koran Day”.

He said: “On that day the Koran will be put on trial. We are accusing the Koran of murder, rape, deception, and being responsible for terrorist activities all over the world.”

Ghaffar Hussain, spokesman for the anti-extremism organisation Quilliam, said: "His clear intention in coming to the UK was to stir up tensions and rivalry between the UK’s different religious groups.

"The British government is not obliged to allow trouble-makers into the country and is correct in deciding to exclude Terry Jones. Britain does not need foreign extremists coming here purely to make trouble."

Mr Hussain added: "It is important however that the criteria used to exclude Jones are applied equally in future to individuals of all religions, races and backgrounds."

    Last updated: 11:19am, January 20 2011