Islamic Preacher Barred from the UK Set to Address Oxford Union in Historic Debate
(PRWeb UK) January 31, 2011
Islamic preacher and orator, Dr Zakir Naik, is set to address the prestigious debating society the Oxford Union next week – despite being barred from the UK.
Peace promoting Dr Naik will address the Oxford Union at 7.00pm on FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11 2011, and then hold a Q & A session with undergraduates and academics via satellite link at the world-renowned university.
The event highlights Home Secretary Theresa May’s controversial decision to exclude Dr Naik, who is founder and Chairman of the global TV channel Peace TV, from the UK.
News of the Oxford address came only days after Dr Naik was allowed to enter France to host a board meeting of his TV company in Paris – highlighting the injustice of the UK’s Exclusion Order.
His visa allowing him to enter France was granted on December 13 after officials decided they were happy for him to visit. The Schengen visa allowed him to visit 25 European countries.
Yesterday Dr Naik, whose appeal against his UK ban is due to be held in the Court of Appeal later this year, said: “I am delighted to address the historic Oxford Union.
“This gives me the perfect opportunity to show the British people my true views rather than the distorted and false grounds cited by the Home Secretary.”
Dr Naik plans to address the Oxford Union on peace and religious tolerance and will join a host of Internationally famous previous speakers, including current PM David Cameron, Winston Churchill, US Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and film stars including Dame Julie Walters, Ewan McGregor, Michael Jackson and Stephen Fry.
Dr Naik has been forced into addressing the Union by satellite link as a result of his exclusion – a necessity which organizers have privately confided is likely to have an impact on turn out.
Dr Naik was excluded from the UK In June 2010. Court papers revealed days earlier Charles Farr, Director General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, said he would “put himself on the line” for Dr Naik and then said he was “gutted and mortified” by the exclusion. He even then discussed a plan to try to help Dr Naik get into the country.
Meanwhile one of his senior officials Sabin Khan was suspended for criticizing the exclusion as a “huge error of judgement .”
Dr Naik’s supporters, who delivered a petition to No10 with over 10,000 signatures protesting against the exclusion,say the decision was unreasonable and blatant political postering – based on completely flawed reasoning, which unfairly victimised a peaceful man who has addressed millions around the world. The move cost charities organising his scheduled tour over £500,000.
Dr Naik was due to address tens of thousands of people at London’s Wembley Arena, Birmingham’s L G Arena – NEC and the Sheffield Arena.
But just eight days before the first engagement his five year multiple entry visa, granted in July 2008, was revoked despite him having flown to the UK twice on that visa. Over the last twenty years he has visited the UK 15 times (9 of these were exclusively for public lecture) and has delivered more than 1300 public lectures all over the world without any problems.
Last year at London’s High Court Justice Cranston granted Dr Naik a judicial review and declared THREE decisions made by the Home Secretary to exclude Dr Naik on June 16, 17 and 25 were “unlawful.’
However he decided a FOURTH attempt was legal despite accepting Dr Naik didn’t have a chance to respond to all of the issues raised in the final decision.
The appeal, asserting his right to freedom of expression , will focus on what grounds the Home Secretary decided to go against the advice of Britain’s counter terrorism chief Farr and his team.
Supporters of Dr Naik insist that he is a reputable scholar on questions relating to Islam and comparative religion. He regularly addresses audiences of hundreds of thousands and organizes International Peace Conferences attended by over 1 million people. His whole ethos is built on enhancing the understanding of Islam and bringing world faiths together in the interests of promoting peace and understanding.
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