MP complains over anti-gay preacher’s UK visit

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An MP has asked Home Secretary Theresa May why an anti-gay US preacher is being allowed into the UK.

Labour MP Richard Burden told the Birmingham Mail that people would question why Pastor John Hagee is allowed into the country while other hate preachers, such as Muslim speaker Sheikh Raed Salah, are banned.

Mr Burden was due to speak at an event with Mr Salah but the latter was arrested after arriving in the UK. He was supposed to have been banned from entering the UK after claims of anti-Semitism.

Mr Hagee, who calls himself a Christion-Zionist, has said in the past that the Holocaust was part of God’s plan to force Jews to return to Israel and that Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for a gay Pride march.

He is due to speak at Birmingham Symphony Hall on August 19th, with two seminars the following day.

Mr Burden said: “It’s hard to understand why Raed Salah is banned from the UK while Pastor Hagee is welcomed despite his repulsive and bigoted views.

“I also wonder whether Symphony Hall knows what Pastor Hagee will be saying when he uses their premises.

“Many people might believe that he is entitled to freedom of speech, however offensive his opinions. But there is a difference between accepting his right to speak and actively helping him by providing premises.”

Chris Baldock, general manager of the Symphony Hall, told the newspaper: “We have a general open policy as regards all faith groups and have therefore accepted a booking from John Hagee Ministries.

“We have been made aware of the views expressed by individual members of the public and will be liaising with the organisers to discuss the matter further.”

A Home Office spokesman said he could not comment on individual cases. He said: “The Home Secretary will seek to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good. The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they might seek to undermine our society.”