LONDON (Reuters) - Britain on Friday banned from entering the country an Indian preacher who has expressed radical views about Islam, including some that appear to justify acts of terrorism.
Home Secretary Theresa May said she had barred Zakir Naik, a 44-year-old television preacher based in Mumbai, for inflammatory remarks he was known to have made in the past.
Naik had been due to give a series of lectures in London and the city of Sheffield in northern England.
“Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour,” May said in a statement, without elaborating.
The Daily Telegraph on Friday reported Interior Ministry sources saying that 2006 website footage had shown Naik telling Muslims it was acceptable to embrace terrorism in certain instances.
According to the paper, Naik said Muslims should beware of people saying Osama bin Laden was right or wrong, adding: “If you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him.
“If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.”
He is also reported by the paper to have suggested Western women make themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing.
“Western society has actually degraded (women) to the status of concubines, mistresses and social butterflies, who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers,” the paper quoted him as saying.
May said: “Coming to the UK is a privilege not a right and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter.”
The minister made it clear she had not banned him simply because of his views, which is prohibited under the law.
A Home Office spokesman said the powers were used if an individual expressed views that “foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs” or “seek to provoke others to terrorist acts.”
He declined to elaborate on the exact nature of his comments, or when they were made.
Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Alison Williams