Controversial American preacher Pastor Terry Jones has been barred from the United Kingdom, the Home Office said.
The preacher sparked outrage when he announced plans by his Florida-based church to burn copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK.”
The spokesman added: “Numerous comments made by Pastor Jones are evidence of his unacceptable behaviour.
“Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right, and we are not willing to allow entry to those whose presence is not conducive to the public good. The use of exclusion powers is very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate.”
Pastor Jones had accepted an invitation to speak to a group called England Is Ours next month. He was to speak at a series of demonstrations against the expansion of Islam and the construction of mosques in the UK.
A spokesman for England Is Ours said he hoped other members of Pastor Jones’s outreach centre would be able to visit and speak to the group if the controversial preacher was unable to get the decision overturned.
Barry Taylor, secretary of the activists’ group based in Milton Keynes, said Pastor Jones had planned to visit in mid-February to attend a number of meetings with other similar organisations.
He said: “I’m very disappointed. The whole object of the exercise is to have a discussion about the Islamification of the UK and just have dialogue about the problems.
“The idea isn’t to cause trouble or kick up a stink. These things do need addressing and people do need to speak about them. We shouldn’t be frightened about them.”