Previously obscure American extremist preacher Pastor Terry Jones has been barred from the United Kingdom, the Home Office said in an announcement yesterday.
The pastor provoked an international outcry when he announced plans by his small Florida-based church to burn copies of the Qur'an to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.
He came to public prominence after being denounced by President Obama and other leading politicians.
Critics of the government's decision fear that the UK ban will simply fuel more publicity, attention and 'martyrdom' in Pastor Jones' direction.
A Home Office spokesperson declared: "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK."
The spokesperson 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 in February, along with a series of demonstrations against the expansion of Islam and the construction of mosques in the UK.
Barry Taylor, a representative of the group, said he hoped other members of Pastor Jones's church would be able to visit and speak to the group if he was unable to get the decision overturned.
Jones was originally invited to speak in Britain at a rally organised by far-right group the English Defence League (EDL). The EDL later withdrew its offer.