Hawzah News Agency (London, UK) – Leading Muslim organizations are calling on the U.K. to prevent a prominent Donald Trump–supporting American preacher from visiting the country to speak at an evangelistic rally.
Franklin Graham, who once called Islam a “very wicked and evil religion,” is planning to headline at the Lancashire Festival of Hope in Blackpool, England, this month. The three-day evangelistic rally, similar to the “crusades” once led by his father, Billy Graham, has for months received heated backlash from British pastors, politicians, queer activists and Muslims.
The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group of over 500 Islamic organizations and mosques, said Graham’s past remarks clearly demonstrate “a hatred for Muslims and other minorities.” The group is calling on the U.K.’s Home Office, which is in charge of immigration and entry to the country, to refuse to grant Graham a visa.
“In the past, the government has banned individuals whom they claim are ‘not conducive to the public good.’ We would expect the government to apply its criteria here,” the organization said in a statement sent to HuffPost on Monday.
“If it does not, it will send a clear message that it is not consistent in challenging all forms of bigotry.”
Tell MAMA, a U.K. group that tracks anti-Muslim incidents, also called on the Home Office to consider the impact Graham’s views could have on U.K. communities.
“How someone like this can be given a platform in Blackpool is shocking,” Fiyaz Mughal, the organization’s founder, told HuffPost in an email. “The views are so regressive that they need to be challenged.”
Three British members of Parliament have added their voices to the calls for Graham to be denied a visa, The Guardian reports. Similar calls from the MPs last December were fruitless.
Gordon Marsden, a member of Parliament for Blackpool South, told The Guardian on Sunday he was going to write to the U.K.’s home secretary this week to push for Graham to be denied a visa.
“Graham’s visit to Blackpool is likely to cause considerable offence,” Marsden told the paper.
The U.K.’s Home Office declined to publicly comment on the matter.