religion and stupidity go together
Finns Party MPs call for ban on Muslim cleric
Controversial Islamic cleric Bilal Philips is reportedly due to arrive in Finland at the end of March at the invitation of a Helsinki Muslim group. Finns Party MP Olli Immonen says Finland should bar the cleric’s entry. However officials say they cannot block the entry of private individuals into the country without plausible justification
The contentious Jamaican-born Islamic cleric Bilal Philips has been banned from entering several other countries such as Germany, Britain, Australia and Kenya. Philips became infamous for apparently defending suicide bombing, before later denouncing the practice as forbidden by Islam.
The website of a group called Helsingin Muslimit lists his visit as taking place on March 29-30. It adds that those who buy a ticket to the events will be informed of the location a week in advance.
Philips’ imminent visit to Finland has been a source of concern, particularly for some opposition Finns Party Members of Parliament. Finns Party MP Olli Immonen has called on Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, immigration police and the security police Supo to prevent Philips from entering the country.
Immonen’s Finns Party colleague Jussi Halla-aho has filed a written interpellation on the matter in the Parliament, in which he outlined his concerns about the possible impact of the cleric on Finland’s Muslim community.
“The actions of the Muslim cleric will maintain and increase the isolation of this community from the wider society, in the same way that reactionary practices within these communities impact on the lives of women,” wrote Halla-aho, who in 2012 was convicted of disturbing religious worship and incitement against an ethnic group following online comments about Islam and Somalis.
Entry ban must be justified
Finnish officials won’t take a position on specific cases, but have clear general guidelines for denying entry.
“The criteria for entry are specified in the border regulations of the Schengen area and in (Finland’s) Aliens Act and if all is in order then an individual may enter the country. It’s another matter if an individual does not fulfil all the criteria during a border inspection. For example an entry ban may be seen in the register during an immigration check,” said senior inspector Max Janzon of the Finnish Border Guard.
“The rule of law does not provide for arbitrarily denying entry to someone at the border without justification,” Janzon stressed. Justifications are provided in all cases where entry is denied.
In the case of the cleric Philips, some have considered whether a previous entry ban imposed by Germany in 2011 could be used as the basis for barring him from entering Finland. Like Finland, Germany belongs to the Schengen area – effectively a border free region comprising 26 European countries. They point out that in many cases entry bans in one Schengen country are upheld in others. However the neither the Border Guard nor the Finnish Immigration Agency would comment on individual cases.
Officials may also evaluate such cases on the basis of preserving public order, internal security or relations with other countries. Senior inspector Janzon emphasised that there are no general guidelines for such cases.
“It underscores overall consideration on a case by case basis in which officials make evaluations and arrive at conclusions on the basis of whether we can justifiably conclude that someone will endanger public order or security. There’s no instruction booklet, it’s about a consideration of the whole situation, and may involve cooperation between border inspection officials and other bodies,” Janzon concluded.