Top Saudi cleric refused entry into Britain a day before he was due on UK mosque tour
CONTROVERSIAL: Saudi Sunn imam Sheikh Adel al Kalbani reportedly thinks Shia Muslims are apostates [BBC]
Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani, a former senior imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, was prevented from boarding his plane in Riyadh on Wednesday.
He was due to fly to London, where he had been expected to give a lecture in Whitechapel last night and another one in Wembley today.
It is not known why a visa for Al Kalbani was refused.
He has previously been allowed into the country and in 2008 he was a guest of the then leader of Tower Hamlets council in east London, Lutfur Rahman.
Mr Rahman is now the directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets.
I was told that other Muslim scholars have also been denied entry and had their visas cancelled
Sheikh Adel Al Kalbani
Since 2008, the Sunni cleric has been quoted expounding potentially divisive views regarding Shia Muslims.
There has been increasing concern among extremism experts over attempts to divide Shia and Sunni Muslims in Britain.
Followers of radical hate preacher Anjem Choudary led a demonstration in London in May against Shia Muslims.
According to the Arab News website, Al-Kalbani had performed the noon and afternoon prayers before heading to the King Khaled International Airport.
He was quoted as saying: “I was stopped at the door of the plane and told that the authorities received a message from the British Embassy saying that I was not allowed to enter Britain.”
WELCOME: Al Kalbani was welcome in UK in 2008 when seen here with Tower Hamlets leader Lutfur Rahman [AP]
He said he had received his visa from the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia in October, just two weeks after submitting his application.
The British Embassy apparently did not explain why he was then later refused.
He said: “I don’t really know why they denied me entry. I was in Britain about four years ago and other countries.
“I was told that other Muslim scholars have also been denied entry and had their visas cancelled.
“My gut feeling is that they don’t want to see me interacting with the Muslim community there.”
He said he would not be appealing the decision. He said Allah “has chosen the best for me”.
Al Kalbani was the star billing on the Qibla speaking tour over the next 10 days.
He was due to talk at the Water Lily centre in Whitechapel tomorrow, then at Luton later in the day, then Swansea and Cardiff on Sunday.
He had a talk planned in Kingston, Surrey, on Monday while Muslims in Birmingham and Walsall were due to welcome him on Christmas Eve.
A Home Office spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on specific individuals, but added: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.
“The onus is on the individual to ensure they provide the correct evidence when submitting an application.”
The UK Home Office, perhaps dimly and belatedly becoming aware of its staggering double standard in allowing the likes of al-Kalbani and jihad murder preacher al-Arefe into the country while banning Pamela Geller and me for the crimes of supporting Israel and telling the truth about Islamic jihad terrorism, hurried at the last minute to bar al-Kalbani from boarding his plane in Riyadh.
This doesn't mean, however, that Insane Britannia is recovering its sanity, and stopping demonizing freedom fighters while being in thrall to sly stealth jihadists and Islamic supremacists. This only means that the Home Office was momentarily embarrassed by its abject dhimmitude, brought to light in this post, and so moved to save face. But it has a long way to go, and no indication that it is even on the journey.