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British Have a Go at Trump but Shy Away From a Ban

British Have a Go at Trump but Shy Away From a Ban

By STEPHEN CASTLE for The New York Times

They called him a “fool,” a “buffoon” and even a “wazzock” — English slang for a combination of the two.

Yet even as British lawmakers roundly condemned the brash Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump on Monday, with language that could have been lifted from his Twitter feed, they appeared to back away from the idea of barring him from entering the country. 

A three-hour debate in Parliament on whether to bar Mr. Trump from traveling to Britain was set off by an electronic petition, signed by more than 570,000 Britons, which likened Mr. Trump to those denied entry to the country for engaging in “hate speech.” 

The petition emerged in response to Mr. Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the United States, something that shocked many in Britain, where there is much debate on community cohesion and on how to prevent radicalization by young Muslims.

The debate on Monday, held in the Petitions Committee, touched on a range of issues, including whether Mr. Trump had breached the limits of free speech, and whether he was being treated differently from others with similar views because of his wealth and his prominence.

Tulip Siddiq, a Labour Party member of Parliament and a supporter of the efforts to bar Mr. Trump, described him as “a poisonous, corrosive man” who risked inflaming tensions between communities.

“Are we going to make exceptions for billionaire politicians?” she asked.

While Ms. Siddiq was one of several lawmakers who derided Mr. Trump, others suggested that a visit to Britain — and perhaps a chance to sample food in immigrant neighborhoods — might change his views. 

Paul Flynn, a veteran Labour lawmaker, argued that, rather than barring Mr. Trump, it would be better to invite him to the country and ask him to find the “so-called no-go areas” that Mr. Trump has claimed the police here fear to enter.

In December, Mr. Trump said that “we have places in London and other places that are so radicalized that the police are afraid for their own lives.”

Naz Shah, a Labour lawmaker representing Bradford West, which has a large Muslim population, described Mr. Trump as a demagogue who “panders to people’s fears.” But she voiced opposition to a ban, and said she would like to have Mr. Trump visit her constituency and eat a curry there. 

The debate also included personal statements from Muslim lawmakers, including Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh of the Scottish National Party, who said Mr. Trump had condemned all Muslims through his words, herself included.

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