LONDON, July 31 (AP) -- Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan won his appeal Tuesday against a government ban preventing him from visiting the United Kingdom.

Justice Michael Turner did not immediately disclose his reasoning in overturning the ban, imposed by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government in 1986. The judge said he would give his reasons on Oct. 1, and he prohibited Farrakhan, the Chicago-based activist, from entering Britain until after that time.

The government had argued that it was entitled to continue the ban because of fears that Farrakhan's presence could lead to public disorder, because of his past negative statements about Jews.

"This is a sad day for all of us in Britain who worked for good race relations," said Lord Greville Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust. "In the past, Farrakhan has stirred up racial tension especially by his thoroughly nasty references to Jewish people. If he does come to Britain, I hope he will not be here to stir up ill will."

Farrakhan's lawyer Nicholas Blake had told the High Court that the Nation of Islam leader regretted the damage his highly charged rhetoric has done in the past. Blake said Farrakhan had "moved on" from hurtful language and wanted to bring Britain's black communities a message of "self-reliance, dignity and discipline."

Hilary Muhammad, the British spokesman for the Nation of Islam, welcomed the judge's ruling, saying: "As Muslims we are grateful that our leader will be able to come and give us much-needed and valued guidance and instructions." Farrakhan, 67, who underwent surgery last year for complications caused by treatment of prostate cancer, returned to the public spotlight in February. He organized the "Million Man March" in Washington, D.C., in 1995.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad