Nick Lowles' blog

The case for a banning Pastor Jones

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 12 December 2010, 19:43

I would like to take on those who believe that banning Pastor Jones will just give him and the EDL publicity and so the best course of action would be to allow him in, to speak and then to leave.

Unfortunately it is not as simple as that. Of course Jones and the EDL are self-publicists who see any media attention as a victory but I would argue that the concerns of what might happen if he is allowed in far outweigh the short term publicity he and the EDL gain from this present furore.

Jones's planned speech at an EDL rally in Luton is both dangerous and inflammatory. In indiscriminately attacking the Islamic faith he is attacking all Muslims. His presence will give encouragement to all racists in Luton and beyond whilst simultaneously provoking concern and fear within amongst Muslims.

Thousands of EDL supporters will flock to Luton attracted by Jones's fame and reputation buoyed up by his extreme Islamophobia. A taste of what we can expect was evident the last time the EDL marched in Luton. Then, in May 2009, 250 thugs went on the rampage, smashing shop windows, overturning cars and indiscriminately attacking innocent people. Thirty-five people were arrested for this trouble. Do we really believe that an EDL demo of many thousands, spurred on by the incendiary presence of Pastor Jones, will not lead to even greater violence?

Pastor Jones's appearance in the UK will only give ammunition to those Muslim extremists who argue that 'Christian' Britain is intrinsically an enemy of all Muslims. Do we really believe that they will sit back and allow Pastor Jones speak in Luton unchallenged? Only last month the head of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, the police group that monitors extremism, said that the EDL had become a recruiting agent for Muslim extremist groups. Pastor Jones's visit will only boost the very groups that the EDL claim to oppose.

Extremism breeds extremism and Pastor Jones’s intervention will only add to the polarisation within and between communities, something that could have dire consequences.

I understand people are nervous about banning people and curtailing freedom of speech, but with freedom comes responsibility and it is unacceptable for an extreme few to whip up hatred and violence against others. Just as the Home Secretary bans radical Islamist preachers so she must ban radical Christian preachers.

For those who say that we are just increasing publicity my answer is simple. The Home Secretary this week announces that Pastor Jones will not be allowed into the UK and within a few days the story will be forgotten. The longer this issue drags on the more tensions will rise and the more publicity Jones and the EDL will get.

There is a deeper point here however, many of the people urging us to turn a blind eye to Pastor Jones’s visit do so from the comfort of fairly affluent communities and lifestyles. It reminds me of those who claimed that we were wrong to campaign for a ban on the EDL march in Bradford, arguing that a “few clashes” were the “price of living in a liberal democracy.” The fact that the EDL march was going through a predominantly Asian area of Bradford, a city which was still scarred by the 2001 riots and where its inhabitants were scared of a repeat, was lost on these London-based commentators.

For people living in the frontline of EDL intimidation – the Muslim communities and the citizens of all backgrounds in the towns and cities around England being targeted by the EDL – the threat of increased trouble is something that is both real and worrying. For the majority of these people anything to reduce the prospect of trouble is both welcomed and encouraged.

That is not to say we just rely on bans and actions by the authorities. Our huge campaigns in Bradford and Leicester show how we can mobilise the moderate majority around a positive community action. In Bradford over 6% of all adults signed our offline petition in three weeks over the summer holidays. The campaign was so big and involved so many people that the Bradford Telegraph & Argus claimed that it played a major role in changing the mood of the city.

In Leicester, another city targeted by the EDL, over 6,000 people attended HOPE not hate community events over the protest weekend. This, together with our close working relationship with the city council and the local police meant the EDL was unable to provoke a violent local response.

We are now preparing to co-ordinate an even bigger campaign in Luton to ensure that the extremists are sidelined and the threat of the EDL can be used positively to bring ordinary people together.

The HOPE not hate campaign strives to bring communities together around shared experiences and identities. We believe that the majority of people want to live together in peace. Pastor Jones's visit will do the very opposite and tear communities apart by increasing suspicion, fear, hatred and violence.

It is for all these reasons that we are calling on the Home Secretary to prevent Pastor Terry Jones from entering Britain.

You can co-sign our letter to the Home Secretary here:

 Posted: 12 Dec 2010 | There are 1 comments


Comment 1 | From: cathy hawkins | Date: 12 December 2010, 20:57

WE includes my family DO NOT want Pastor Terry Jones to come to our country!!

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