Two U.S. human rights activists who sought to memorialize a U.K. soldier allegedly murdered by Islamic fundamentalists on a London street are fighting back against a politician's decision to banish them from the island nation.
WND columnist Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, co-founders of Stop Islamization of America, said today they are instructing U.K. lawyers to challenge the ban by British Home Secretary Theresa May.
They had sought to visit to lay a wreath at a memorial for British soldier Lee Rigby on Armed Forces Day, June 29.
Investigators allege Rigby was beheaded by Islamic radicals May 22 on a street in Woolwich.
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"I have been banned in Britain," said Geller. "My crime? My principled dedication to freedom. I am a human rights activist dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and individual rights for all before the law. I fiercely oppose violence and the persecution and oppression of minorities under supremacist law. I deplore violence and work for the preservation of freedom of speech to avoid violent conflict."
Spencer, an author of many books about Islam and the director of JihadWatch, noted that the U.K. recently allowed entry to Saudi Muslim cleric Mohammed al-Arifi.
According to Spencer, Arifi has said, "Devotion to jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of his religion, is, undoubtedly, an honor for the believer.
"Such open calls for jihad violence are apparently acceptable in Britain as long as one is in favor of such violence; only those who oppose it are excluded," he said.
BBC News reported a British government spokesman said visitors whose presence "is not conducive to the public good" could be excluded by the home secretary.
"We condemn all those whose behaviors and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form," the spokesman said.
Geller, who runs the Atlas Shrugs blog, and Spencer are also executive directors of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, known for its "Defeat Jihad" poster campaign in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
On their blogs, the two posted a letter from the British Home Office, which issued the ban.
BBC News said the Home Affairs Select Committee had called for the bloggers to be banned from the U.K.
Chairman Keith Vaz said: "I welcome the home secretary's ban on Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from entering the country. This is the right decision. The U.K. should never become a stage for inflammatory speakers who promote hate."
The English Defence League, which invited Geller and Spencer to its event, blasted the decision. Leader Tommy Robinson said, "It's embarrassing for this so-called land of democracy and freedom of speech.
"How many hate preachers are living in this country? It just shows what sort of a two-tier system we have here."
A group called Hope Not Hate had campaigned to stop Geller and Spencer from entering the U.K.
Said spokesman Matthew Collins: "These two are among some of the most extreme anti-Muslim activists in the world. They've nothing to contribute to life in this country," he said. "They're not here to contribute to good community relations. They only wanted to come here and help the EDL stir up more trouble. Britain doesn't need more hate even just for a few days."
In her WND column, Geller wrote:
Imagine: The country of the Magna Carta Libertatum, or the Great Charter of the Liberties of England, would consider banning two human rights activists whose body of work is founded on the freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and individual rights. The Magna Carta led to the rule of constitutional law. It was the model for the legal structure of the American colonies.
My organizations stand for the very things the British fought and died for in World War II and decades later in Afghanistan and Iraq. After their great sacrifices, the U.K. is going to ban freedom?
The U.K. ban against Geller and Spencer comes just four years after then-British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that leading talk-radio host Michael Savage was on a list of 16 people banned from entry because the government believed their views might provoke violence. Smith said it was "important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it’s a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won’t be welcome in this country."
"How about democracy in the U.K.?" asked Savage at the time, referring to his case. "The freedom to a trial? The freedom of appeal? The freedom to set the record straight?
"Why does the Cameron government protect Muslim terrorists and Muslim hate-preachers who espouse the overthrow of the British government, democracy itself, while banning Michael Savage from entering the land of their better forefathers?" he asked.
In 2011, an attorney for the British government reaffirmed the U.K. decision to ban Savage from entry.