Government minister calls for terror-law ban on US Evangelist
A government minister has fuelled debate over proposed anti-terror laws by calling for a controversial American evangelist, to be banned from the UK.
Nigel Griffiths, the deputy leader of the House of Commons, said Pat Robertson should be barred from Britain for inciting "hate and murder".
Mr Robertson has been at the centre of a storm in the United States after he suggested that Washington should organise the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the left-wing president of Venezuela.
Tony Blair's proposed anti-terror laws are designed to prevent some Islamic preachers who back suicide bombers and terrorism from coming to Britain.
The laws would give the government the ability to refuse entry to anyone found to have incited terrorism.
Mr Griffiths said; "My view is that [Mr Robertson] is frankly not the sort of person we would welcome into Britain. The new law would catch him as someone preaching hate and murder."
And he added: "I think anyone who calls for violent measures against others should not be welcome in Britain. What we need to ensure is that what applies to extreme mullahs applies to Pat Robertson.
"I think, if we did that, we could show that this legislation is not targeted at one single race or religious group."
Mr Griffiths has always been seen as a loyal Brownite and his comments may be dismissed by No10 as the machinations of one of the Chancellor's closest supporters.
Mr Robertson - a failed Republican presidential candidate, self-described "humanitarian" and outspoken founder of the right-wing Christian Coalition - sparked the controversy when he said that killing Mr Chavez, the South American leader who has a prickly relationship with the US, would be "a whole lot cheaper than starting a war".
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," the 75-year-old TV preacher said.
Following a storm of international protest, Robertson was then forced to apologise.
The Government refused to comment on Mr Griffiths' remarks. A Home Office spokesman said: "We will not be commenting on individual cases."
The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia recently called for a debate about the roots of religious terror tactics. Ekklesia's co-directors have edited Consuming Passion, a new book looking at the link between Christian doctrine and violence.