Michael Savage 88.
(photo credit: )
Britain on Tuesday published its first list of people barred from entering the country for allegedly fostering extremism or hatred, including Muslim extremists, a right-wing American radio host, an Israeli settler and jailed Russian gang members.
The UK's law and order chief, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, said she decided to publish the names of 16 of 22 people who have been banned by the government since October so others could better understand what sort of behavior Britain was not prepared to tolerate.
She cited unidentified "public interest" reasons for not disclosing the other six names.
"I think it's important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it's a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won't be welcome in this country," Smith told GMTV.
But some of the people on the list criticized it, and one analyst said it contains a wide variety of people to avoid giving Britain's Muslims the impression that it singles them out.
Popular American talk-radio host, Michael Savage, who broadcasts from San Francisco and has called the Muslim holy book, the Quran, a "book of hate," is on the list. Savage also has enraged parents of children with autism by saying in most cases it's "a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."
Savage told the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com that he was considering legal action against Smith for defamation.
"She's linking me with mass murderers who are in prison for killing Jewish children on buses? For my speech? The country where the Magna Carta was created?" the site quoted him as saying Tuesday.
A phone call to his home station, KNEW in San Francisco, wasn't immediately returned.
The list includes Americans Stephen "Don" Black, founder of a Florida-based white supremacist Web site, and anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps Sr., who leads a church in Topeka, Kansas.
Black was criticized as the "Godfather of hate on the Internet" in a 2000 HBO documentary. The British government previously acknowledged that Phelps was banned.
His daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, also has been barred from the U.K. The pair have picketed the funerals of AIDS victims and claimed the deaths of U.S. soldiers are a punishment for tolerance of homosexuality.
Phelps-Roper, a spokeswoman for Phelps' anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, claimed on Tuesday that Smith was helping to spread her group's message.
"She caused the words to just flow all over the world," Phelps-Roper said in a telephone interview. "They're publishing that story about (Smith) in every country in the world in languages I can't even read."
The list also includes Yunis Al-Astal, a Hamas lawmaker in Gaza; Samir Kantar, a Lebanese man once jailed for murdering four Israelis; Egyptian cleric Safwat Hijazi; and Israeli settler Mike Guzovsky, who Britain's Home Office said was involved with military training camps.
Also banned from entering Britain are Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, two leaders of a Russian gang. They were imprisoned for 10 years in Russia last year for their role in racially motivated killings of 19 people.
Alan Mendoza, head of The Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think-tank in London, said Tuesday that he supports the idea of a public list of the unwanted, but that many of the names were "just here for padding."
He said the British immigration officials' real focus was keeping Islamic extremists out of Britain and indoctrinating elements of the U.K.'s sizable Muslim minority.
But Mendoza said that "if the government proposed a list purely of those figures, you can imagine the reaction within the Muslim community."
Muhammad Abdul Bari, leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group for U.K. Islamic groups, said Britain's government appears to be "creating a sort of 'pre-crime.'"
"We have more than sufficient legislation on the statute books to deal with the very situations they claim trying to protect us against," he said.
Earlier this year Britain's government was criticized for its decision to bar far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders from the country because of his anti-Islam views.
But the spectacle of seeing the elected European lawmaker detained at London's Heathrow Airport drew protests from the Dutch government, sparked debate in Britain over the whether officials were muzzling free expression, and raised questions about who the UK should ban.
Smith's list does not include Wilders, but Mendoza said the British government was trying to compensate for its embarrassment over the Wilders affair by banning people who were so widely disliked that nearly everyone would agree they should be kept away.