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Groups back Canadian ban on British lawmaker

TORONTO (JTA) — A public outcry is growing in Canada following the government’s barring of a British lawmaker for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah.

Although George Galloway has visited Canada before, its Border Services Agency last week declared George Galloway inadmissible on national security grounds. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he would not intervene in the decision.

Galloway, who was bounced from former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labor Party, is a Scottish member of parliament known for his harsh opposition to the war in Iraq as well as his sympathies toward Hamas and Hezbollah – both considered terrorist organizations by the Canadian government.

Organizers of Galloway’s four-city Canadian speaking tour have vowed to take the government to court to seek an emergency injunction to overturn the ban.

Should that fail, a delegation of Canadian lawmakers, lawyers and activists is assembling to escort Galloway from the United States, where he is on tour, across the Canadian border on March 30.

The ban has stirred a lively debate over freedom of speech and censorship. B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Jewish Congress, the country’s two leading Jewish advocacy groups, are supporting the ban.

B’nai Brith applauded the government for refusing entry to a "terrorist sympathizer," saying that Galloway "defends the very terrorists trying to kill Canadian forces in Afghanistan." Those who support Hamas and Hezbollah "should not be given public platforms to spew their vile messaging."

Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber, writing in the March 20 edition of the National Post newspaper, said that Galloway "has every right to speak here in Canada, no matter how offensive most Canadians would find his views and actions. But he does not have the right to raise funds for terrorist causes while on our shores. He does not have the right to promote terrorism or incite hatred."

In a later statement, CJC also commended the government for denying Galloway entry.

The decision "demonstrates its resolve in the battle for pluralism and against terror and anti-Semitism," said Rabbi Reuven Bulka, CJC’s co-president. "All Canadians should be proud that our government has told George Galloway that he is not welcome in our country."
 

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