Two prominent Islamophobic US bloggers expected to speak at a far-right rally on Saturday have been banned from entering the United Kingdom, the country’s Home Office ruled. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer had co-founded the provocative group, Stop Islamization of America, and were prominent members of a campaign against the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York City.
The two had been invited to speak at well-known Islamophobic group’s English Defence League march in Woolwich, south-east London, where soldier Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered last month.
Geller and Spencer posted copies of a letter from the British Home Office issuing the ban to their respective blogs, which stated the reasons behind their exclusion from the country. In the letter, the Home Secretary was stated to have “reached this decision because you have brought yourself within the scope of the list of unacceptable behaviors by making statements that may foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”
In an exclusive interview with BBC, a government spokesman said that the home secretary could exclude individuals whose presence “is not conducive to the public good.” He continued, “we condemn all those whose behaviors and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.”
Geller, who writes the Atlas Shrugs blog, and Spencer, who blogs at Jihad Watch, are also co-founders of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which mounted a controversial “Defeat Jihad” poster campaign on the New York subway with signs reading, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
In response to the British Home Office, Geller wrote on her blog, “In a striking blow against freedom, the British government has banned us from entering the country...In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state.”
The Independent reported that Spencer called the office’s decision “a victory for the campaign of smears and defamation” against them.
Matthew Collins, of the British anti-extremism group Hope Not Hate, said the organization was “absolutely delighted” by the Home Office’s conclusion. Hope Not Hate had campaigned for Geller and Spencer’s exclusion. “[They] are among some of the most extreme anti-Muslim activists in the world. They’ve nothing to contribute to life in this country...Britain doesn’t need more hate even just for a few days.”
The decision to ban the bloggers came amidst a wave of anti-Muslim attacks within the nation, and cannot be appealed. It remains to stand between three to five years.