Controversial American preacher Pastor Terry Jones has said he is disappointed to be barred from the United Kingdom, calling his exclusion from the country “unfair”.
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.
Speaking after the Home Office announced it would not allow him to enter the UK, he insisted he was not against Muslims or Islam, only the “radical element of Islam”.
He told Sky News: “I have no intention of doing anything against British law. We feel this is definitely against constitutional rights to travel, freedom of speech. We believe that our visit there could be beneficial.”
He also had personal reasons for wanting to come to Britain, he added, since his daughter lives in England and his grandchildren are English and live in the country too.
“I feel this ban is very unfair,” he said.
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.”
He 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.