Hizbullah spokesman denied entry to UK

Home Office rejects visa application of Moussawi, who was to speak at a conference on political Islam.

Moussawi 248 88  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Moussawi 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Home Office has barred Hizbullah media spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi from entering Britain to take part in a conference later this month. Moussawi was scheduled to speak at a conference on political Islam taking place March 23-27 at the University of London's School of Oriental and Africa Studies (SOAS), but on Friday the Home Office rejected his visa application. On Thursday, the Home Office denied reports to the contrary. "We have not granted him a visa," a Home Office spokeswoman said, adding, "We don't comment on applications." A SOAS representative declined to comment on Friday, saying they had not yet received confirmation about Moussawi. Previously, the school insisted he had been invited to participate in the program as he was "a leading expert" on Hizbullah. "The rationale behind the invitation to Dr. Moussawi is to help government officials and other senior leaders understand more clearly what makes Hizbullah tick," a SOAS representative said. The school insisted it was not giving Moussawi a platform for his views. "Had he on any previous occasion indulged in any racist incitement, he would not have been allowed to continue with his presentation, and were he to do so in the future, the same would apply. His attendance should not cause concern and worry for Jewish students at SOAS. If this were the case, we would have to review his participation in the program," the school said. Last month, Moussawi was appointed media relations head for Hizbullah. Previously he was head of programming at the Islamist group's Al-Manar television channel. Al-Manar is banned in the US, France, Germany and by a number of European satellite providers. The Beirut-based channel claimed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a Zionist conspiracy and that Jews orchestrated wars and stock market crashes. In 2005, it broadcasted a soap opera portraying Jews killing a Christian child to use its blood for matza. In 2002, The New Yorker reported that Moussawi said that Jews were "a lesion on the forehead of history." In 2006, the US Treasury Department designated Al-Manar as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity." The decision to not grant Moussawi a visa was welcomed by the Jewish community. "This is unequivocally the right decision, because of the nature of Hizbullah and the influence of those who advocate on its behalf," said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. "We are pleased that the government has recognized the perniciousness of this terrorist organization." A spokesman for the Community Security Trust said: "We warmly welcome the Home Office decision. Hizbullah is a viciously anti-Semitic organization and its activists should not be welcome in this country." The London-based think tank Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) also welcomed the move. "The decision to bar a spokesman for the terrorist group Hizbullah is a victory for all those who believe that terrorists and their spokesmen should not be allowed to incite violence and hatred in the UK," said Douglas Murray, CSC director. Moussawi's job was to act as a spokesman for a group currently engaging in terrorism with a specifically genocidal intent against the Jewish people, Murray said. Last year Moussawi was allowed to enter the UK to speak at SOAS and as a guest of Stop the War, a group set up by the far-left fringe group the Socialist Workers Party.