three-judge Appeals Court panel in the UK recently upheld a 1986 ruling
that prevents the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan from entering the
The ruling comes nearly a year after a courageous step by Justice
Michael Turner, who ruled that there was no "objective justification" to
keep Minister Farrakhan out of the UK where tens of thousands or more
yearn to hear his message.
The reason given by the Appeals Court in overturning Justice Turner’s
ruling: "The events of September 11 had intervened." The Appeals Court
explained that it was yielding to Home Secretary David Blunkett, who
argued in his appeal of Justice Turner’s lifting of the ban that he (Blunkett)
was balancing the importance of freedom of speech against the risk of
disorder that the Minister might cause.
Well, let’s talk about disorder and who’s causing it.
There’s a wave of racism and xenophobia sweeping the UK, in
particular, and Europe as a whole. Africans, Indians and Arabs from the
Middle East fear for their lives on a daily basis—not for something they
did, but because of how they look and the perceptions of them by
Europeans fearful of an immigrant invasion and their own aging and
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan—a man whose words and actions
have focused on atonement, reconciliation and responsibility over the
years, but particularly since the Million Man March and the Million
Family March—is not allowed to travel to the UK, but Jean-Marie Le Pen,
the feared right wing presidential candidate in France, can visit London
tomorrow to spew his openly racist rhetoric. Augusto Pinochet, the
ruthless Chilean dictator, finds a safe haven in Mr. Blunkett’s England.
Even Home Secretary Blunkett, who rejoiced at the Appeals Court
ruling, recently fed into the xenophobia when he spoke of the danger of
the children of asylum seekers "swamping" British schools. The
"swamping" reference brought back old memories of Margaret Thatcher’s
1978 utterance that people were "afraid that this country (England)
might be rather swamped by people with a different culture."
Min. Farrakhan—a man who has taken his message of atonement and
reconciliation to some 50 nations where he has shared it with heads of
state in most of those countries—is not allowed in the UK.
But hundreds of veterans of Hitler’s SS force for years have been
living in England and holding private reunions to celebrate and relive
their time under the Third Reich. Recently, the shadow Minister of
Agriculture, Ann Winterton, was dismissed from her post for making a
joke about throwing a Pakistani, who she described as "10 a penny" in
Britain, out of a window. And far-right British National Party
candidates increasingly are winning elections at the local level.
We’re talking about disorder and who’s causing it.
This year, a Black man became the first to chair the Bar’s public
affairs committee. But his memories of British cops in the 1970 busting
down doors in the Black community without search warrants and dragging
young Black men off are revealing. And it continues.
The 1993 racial murder of Stephen Lawrence grabbed the nation’s
attention. But apparently not enough. Since that time, the National
Civil Rights Movement has identified 157 incidents in which people have
lost their lives as a result of racism. Published reports say the
families of the victims charge police are at least partly to blame
because of the way they carried out investigations or their
unwillingness to bring prosecutions to court.
Then there were the violent riots of last summer that gripped three
communities with racial clashes. Has the Home Secretary and the British
government addressed those problems? There’s the report published by the
Arts Council of England and the Theatrical Management Association
charging institutional racism against Britain’s theatrical industry. And
the BBC’s World View, the shaper of images to the British Public,
including Min. Farrakhan’s, is being challenged in tribunal’s as a
racist, sexist bastion of colonialism.
Yet, Min. Farrakhan is banned from the UK, a man whose voice and
perspective on the world certainly would give hope and inspiration to
those who suffer from the vestiges of oppression by the status quo: Lift
yourself, do something for yourself to contribute to society. Throw off
the shackles of mental and physical oppression.
Then again, perhaps that’s what the British status quo is afraid of.