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Theresa May bars hate preacher - and makes a good start

Theresa May NW Zakir Naik, an Islamic preacher from India, believes that "every Muslim should be a terrorist".  He was taken at his word by Najibullah Zazi, who planned to explode suicide bombs on New York's subway, and became "enchanted" with Naik before planning his attack.

Kafeel Ahmed, one of the terrorists who fire-bombed Glasgow Airport in 2007, reportedly hoped to get Naik to speak at one of his group's meetings.  The terrorist group which carried out the Mumbai massacre commends the website of Naik's Islamic Research Foundation. If Bin Laden was terrorising "the enemies of Islam", Naik said, "I am for him."

A speaking tour of Britain by Naik was imminent.  But as I tweeted yesterday evening and the Daily Telegraph reports this morning here, Theresa May's barred him from entering the country.  The question will be asked: what about free speech?  (Often by those who are silent about threats to, say, those who drew the Danish cartoons.)

To which the answer is: free speech should have boundaries, and inciting attacks on our troops and on civilians, or stirring up hatred and violence travels beyond them.  I had a minor hand in drawing up our policy in this area during Opposition.  We were clear that it should aim to tackle the causes of violence - not just the symptoms.

The Naik decision was thus a big first test for Theresa May.  The usual suspects are already at hand to protest that Naik's been "misinterpreted", and will doubtless have been knocking on the Home Secretary's door.  But try asking the mainstream Muslims who opposed Naik's tour - see here - if they take this view.

May's passed that test with flying colours.  The Home Office was a huge move for her, and it's hard to gainsay those who claimed that one of the reasons for her promotion was a perceived shortage of women in the Cabinet. However, she's made a calm, solid, well-judged start.

After the Carlisle atrocity, other Home Secretaries would have played to the gallery, and rushed in panic measures.  She didn't.  Weighing up whether or not to proceed with the anti-paedophile database, other Home Secretaries would have bowed to the tabloids. She didn't.  And now she's made the right judgement call on Naik.

Earlier reports, see here, suggested that he'd be allowed to enter.  I wonder if parts of the bureaucratic machinery have yet grasped that the policy's changed. May and Pauline Neville-Jones, the Security Minister, will lead the drive to ensure that apologists for terror are given short shrift.

Paul Goodman


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