After 15 years, High Court overturns ban on Farrakhan

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The Independent Online

The American, black-separatist politician Louis Farrakhan was planning last night to come to Britain after a landmark High Court ruling overturned a 15-year government ban on him entering the country.

The surprise judgment provoked an angry response from the Home Office, Jewish groups and the Conservative Party, which expressed fears that a visit by the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam would provoke racial unrest.

Mr Farrakhan has previously described Jewish people as "bloodsuckers" and Judaism as a "gutter religion". He has also attacked Christianity as the "religion of slavery". Lawyers acting for the Nation of Islam claimed that yesterday's ruling by Mr Justice Turner was a "very brave and very sensible decision".

As the judge announced his finding, supporters of Mr Farrakhan kissed and embraced. Mr Justice Turner said he would give the reasons for his decision in October.

Hilary Muhammad, British spokesman for the Nation of Islam, said: "The citizens of UK will have a chance in the near future to see, hear and judge the honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan for themselves". The Nation of Islam's solicitor, Sadiq Khan, said: "This is the first time that the Home Secretary has had a substantive decision relating to an exclusion order quashed." A similar ban by the former home secretary Michael Howard on the Moonie religious leader, Sun Myung Moon, was ruled unlawful by the courts in 1995 because of procedural errors.

Mr Farrakhan, 67, said the decision was "a just ruling that is 15 years overdue". He told BBC Radio 4: "I really don't think that there is any evidence in the 47 years of my ministry in the US and in other parts of the world that any violence follows my speeches or follows my teaching. Islam is not a racist religion, nor do we believe in racism."