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Should Theresa May ban the Qur'an-burning pastor from entering Britain? On balance, yes.

Tim Montgomerie

I know, I know, I know that I'm adding to the oxygen of publicity but why are we giving so much publicity to the dangerous fruitcake Terry Jones? Jones is the attention-seeking preacher from Florida who threatened to organise a public burning of the Qur'an. He's the worst possible advert for America and Christianity and he has a flock of less than fifty people. Where is the responsible journalism that decides he doesn't merit the headlines he won on this morning's Today programme as well as an interview at 8.30am. This latest blaze of publicity arises becauses Jones has been invited to come to Britain by the extremist English Defence League (the new home of BNP types).

The Home Secretary is under pressure to forbid Mr Jones from coming to Britain and probably will.

Archbishop Cranmer makes the case for allowing Jones into Britain... "When a nation which values freedom of speech begins to ban religious leaders from entering the country because the Government does not agree with their theology, there is no freedom at all... Pastor Terry Jones is really not worth bothering with. And the more you campaign to oppose him, the more you raise his unworthy profile, elevate his absurd theology and make him a martyr to his own petty and simplistic cause."

Labour MP Jon Cruddas makes the case for a ban... "Just look at the mayhem and disorder that occurs every time his sponsors in the English Defence League (EDL) take to our streets. That's without the toxic ingredient of a man who proposed tossing one of the world's most widely read religious texts on to a bonfire. Extremists of every persuasion will turn his visit into a jamboree of division and hate... The people who pay the price for Jones's right to exercise his "free speech" are never the liberal elite. It's always the working communities of places like Bradford, Luton and Peterborough who have to endure the boots and bricks and the bottles."

On this occasion I'm with Mr Cruddas. The judgment isn't easy but the combination of Jones and the EDL represents a sufficient threat to public order that Theresa May should stop Mr Jones coming to Britain. Our police have better things to do with their time.


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