SO HERE COMES THE ACID TEST: is Jacqui Smith, as she proclaims, an able enemy of extremism in all its forms, or a cowardly hypocrite?
In October, the Home Secretary announced 'tough new measures' to deny entry to Britain to anybody 'engaged in fostering, encouraging or spreading extremism and hatred.' In recent weeks she has put them to use by banning a Dutch MP with hugely controversial views on Islam, and a notorious anti-gay US preacher. But will she be prepared to apply the same new standards to Islamic extremists who preach a hatred of Jews?
Ibrahim Moussawi, a known hardliner with links to Hezbollah, has been invited to speak at a London university, the School of Oriental and African Studies. His track-record speaks for itself.
He allegedly described Jews as 'a lesion on the forehead of history', and is an editor for the newspaper of Lebanon-based terrorist organisation Hezbollah. He is also former political editor of the Iranian-backed group's TV station, which is banned in many countries including France, Spain and the US, as its output is seen as anti-Semitic.
In short, it is a no-brainer for Miss Smith. He should, as the Centre for Social Cohesion and the Conservatives argue today, be banned from setting foot in the UK, let alone speaking here. Failure to do so must represent double-standards of the very worst kind.
The Far-Right Dutch MP Geert Wilders was banned from travelling to Britain to show his shocking 17-minute film called Fitna at the House of Lords because his views were considered wildly extreme.
His film, which links mainstream Islamic texts with the terrorist attacks on New York in September 2001, was indeed crude and provocative. It begins with the hugely controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb as a turban, and the suggestion that the Koran is ‘a fascist book’ is patently offensive to millions of people. But so are the odious ramblings of Moussawi.
Iiss Smith also banned the Reverend Fred Phelps, founder of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, from entering the UK earlier this month. The 'Reverend', who campaigns under the slogan ‘God Hates Fags’ is fanatical and hateful in equal measure. He had wanted to visit Britain to picket a performance of a play which dramatises the real-life murder of a gay man in 1998. Miss Smith said he had ‘engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a 'number of communities’. So has Moussawi.
Yet Labour has, in the past, been happy to display double standards when the beneficiaries were Islamic extremists. The cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi was not just granted a visa to visit the UK in 2005, despite being publicly praised by the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone at City Hall. Al-Qaradawi had been criticized for condoning suicide bombings and for having anti-Semitic and homophobic views.
Will Miss Smith now repeat the past mistakes of a left-wing establishment inexplicably tolerant of Islamic franatics who pass themselves off as scholars or academics? The omens do not look good. During her time as Home Secretary, Moussawi has already been allowed in at least twicein December 2007 and February 2008.
This is her thirdand surely finalchance to show some courage.