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Britain's ban on Louis Farrakhan upheld

A British court has decided controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan still isn't welcome in Britain, reports CBS News Correspondent Sam Litzinger.

A court of appeals panel said Louis Farrakhan has what it calls "notorious opinions" and a visit to Britain by him could provoke disorder, so the judges are backing the government's decision to keep Farrakhan out.

Nation of Islam solicitor Sabiq Khan called it a blow to free speech.

"You have a man who's preaching a message of self-discipline, self-reliance, atonement and responsibility," he said. "Even if it was right, that he says things that are shocking and offensive, is it right that he should be excluded to come to the U.K.?"

The 68-year-old leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam was banned from Britain in 1986 because the government said he expressed views that were racist and anti-Semitic.

Successive Home Secretaries (interior ministers) have refused him permission to enter but last year lawyers for Farrakhan challenged the ban in the High Court, saying he had "moved on" and was regarded in America as a significant spokesperson for the black community.

They claimed the ban was "an unlawful and disproportionate interference" with Farrakhan's right to communicate freely with his followers in Britain and was contrary to the Human Rights Act.

Last year, High Court Justice Michael Turner had ruled against the ban, saying the government failed to establish "objective justification" for excluding Farrakhan.

The government appealed and said it had good reasons to bar Farrakhan from entering the country.

Monica Carss-Frisk, an attorney representing Home Secretary David Blunkett, said at a hearing last month that he was "well known for expressing anti-Semitic and racially divisive views, particularly at a time of political unrest in the Middle East."

Ruling in favor of the government Tuesday, the three judges said the government ban took into account tensions in the Middle East and the risk of public disorder prompted by a visit by the Chicago-based activist.

Blunkett welcomed the decision and said Farrakhan's presence was "not conducive to good public order."

Farrakhan's lawyer Nicholas Blake told the appeal court that his client had become a spiritual and political voice of the African-American community in the United States since the ban was imposed in 1986.

"It is absurd to say that this is a man who is a rabble rouser. He has never been convicted of any disorderly conduct as neither has anyone who attended his meetings," Blake said.

Blake said Farrakhan had taken his message all over the world, to Commonwealth countries and even to Israel. The only country he had not been allowed to visit was Britain.

"I am delighted that the law has acted justly, realizing the damage that Farrakhan could have done to Britain, said Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust. "The BNP (the far right British National Party) do not need encouragement from the likes of Farrakhan."

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