Britain bans Dove World's Terry Jones

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.

Terry Jones, the pastor at the 30-member Dove World Outreach Center in northwest Gainesville, is banned from entering the United Kingdom, where he was scheduled to hold anti-Islam rallies next month, the British government announced Wednesday.

"The Government opposes extremism in all its forms, which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK," the country's Home Office said in a statement. "Numerous comments made by Pastor Jones are evidence of his unacceptable behaviour."

Last month, the interior minister, Home Secretary Theresa May, said she was considering barring Jones from entering the country after he announced plans to attend a rally with the far-right English Defence League.

The EDL later rescinded its invitation, but other far-right organizations like the National Front, a whites-only political party, and England Is Ours, an anti-Islam nationalist group, asked him to join them.

While the Home Office said the "use of exclusion powers is very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate," it determined that Jones' presence would do more harm than good.

"Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right and we are not willing to allow entry to those whose presence is not conducive to the public good," the government said in the statement.

Stand Up America, Jones' newly formed group that advocates against Islam and for Christians in Arab countries, said in its own statement that the "ban exemplifies the sabotage of the basic human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression."

Jones was the subject of worldwide condemnation and some death threats last year, when he planned to hold a Quran burning on the church's property on Northwest 37th Street to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

After appeals from the White House to cancel the burning, Jones called it off — but not before unsuccessfully trying to leverage his newfound spotlight to have an Islamic center moved from its proposed site two blocks from ground zero.

Last year, the BBC reported that Fred Phelps and his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, from the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, were also banned from Britain.

"Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities," a government spokesman said at the time.

Jones and members of Dove World marched with members from Westboro when they were in Gainesville in April to protest against the area's tolerance of homosexuality.

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