Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth, best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. (Qur'an 16:125)
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, banned Zakir Naik from the UK in mid-June, saying his presence "would not be conducive to the public good"Photo: JULIAN SIMMONDS
A court hearing starting tomorrow will apparently lay bare attempts by Charles Farr, the director of the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism, to undermine Mrs May’s decision to ban Dr Zakir Naik, an Indian television preacher, from the UK.
Mrs May banned Dr Naik from entering the UK for a lecture tour in June, saying his presence “would not be conducive to the public good”.
However, hours after the ban was announced, Mr Farr told one of Dr Naik’s supporters in an email that he would try to help Dr Naik's case to enter the UK, according to emails seen by The Daily Telegraph.
Conservative MPs last night said it suggested “civil servants are actively working to undermine ministers’ decisions”, and said that Mr Farr should stand down.
Nick Boles MP, who is close to Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “This email appears to confirm that civil servants are actively working to undermine ministers’ decisions. This is outrageous. If true he [Mr Farr] should be removed from any position where he is responsible for combating terrorism.”
Robert Halfon, another Conservative MP said: “This underlines what I have been saying that there are too many people who seem to be appeasing extreme Islamism, rather than confront it.
"I welcome Theresa May’s robust response to it and extreme Islamism. This man should be removed from the Home Office. He is not suited to do this role. Why on earth is someone in the Home Office trying to help bring an extreme Islamist into the UK?”
Mr Farr has been director general of the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter Terrorism in July 2007. Once tipped to be the next head of MI6, his responsibilities reportedly include running security for the 2012 Olympics.
When she banned Dr Naik in June 18, Mr May cited reported comments from Dr Naik such as “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and, on Osama Bin Laden, that “if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him” when she decided to ban him.
However, later that same day, Mr Farr told one of Dr Naik’s supporters that he wanted to find a way to get the Muslim preacher into the UK.
According to emails, due to be disclosed at the High Court, Inayat Bunglawala, the chairman of lobby group Muslims4UK, asked Mr Farr whether he could “agree a form of words which makes it clear that Naik totally disassociates himself from the kind of extremism that the right wing press have – very unfairly in my view – accused him of, and thereby allow the governments to show that progress has been made in resolving the issue of problematic statements from the past”.
Mr Farr replied: “Of course I agree. We are aiming to do just that. I am getting this process underway next week and will see it through myself. To be frank with you, the more time you can give us to try to get this right in private the better. Any ideas of course please have a word.”
Two weeks earlier, at a meeting on 3 June with Dr Naik’s representatives Mr Farr allegedly said he would “if necessary [he would] ‘put himself on the line’ as he felt ‘to exclude Dr Naik would be wrong’”.
Dr Naik had been due to arrive in the UK on 18 June, with his wife and three children, to give “presentations on Islamic and religious themes” at the Sheffield Arena, London Wembley Arena and the Birmingham NEC, between 25 and 27 June.
Dr Naik’s lawyers will argue that the comments which led to Dr Naik being banned predated the granting of an earlier five-year multi-entry visa by the Home Office in 2008. The documents added: “Fairness required that the expectations generated by the earlier decisions to admit [Dr Naik] should be respected.”
Last night Dr Naik said he was “confident justice will be done” regarding his legal challenge. He said: "I have great faith in the British justice system. The court will be clearly shown that the independent advice of the most senior government advisors was wrongly overturned and ignored by the Home Secretary Theresa May.”
A Home Office spokesman said: "It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing court case. The Home Secretary will consider many views in making a decision but will exclude an individual if she considers that their presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good. We will defend this position robustly.