LONDON, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- British authorities announced their decision Thursday to deny a visa to controversial Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a move drawing strong criticism from the country's Muslim community.
Explaining the reasons for the visa refusal, a Home Office spokeswoman said Britain would not tolerate the presence of those who seek to justify acts of terrorist violence or express views that could foster inter-community violence.
The Muslim Council of Britain responded by terming the decision "deplorable," saying the government had caved in to unreasonable demands spearheaded by the leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron, who last week called Al-Qaradawi "dangerous and divisive," and called on the government not to allow him an entry visa.
"This decision will send the wrong message to Muslims everywhere about the state of British society and culture," said Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council.
Mohammed Shafiq, of Muslim youth organization the Ramadhan Foundation, also criticized the decision, saying "We've had figures like Nick Griffin and the BNP (British National Party) operating freely and promoting violence toward ethnic minorities, and nothing is done. This smacks of double standards, and will isolate Muslim communities further."
Al-Qaradawi, born in Egypt but now living in Qatar, is already banned from entering the United States.
The Muslim cleric applied for the visa eight months ago, so that he could receive medical treatment in Britain.
Al-Qaradawi defended suicide attacks on Israelis as "martyrdom in the name of God" during a BBC interview during his last visit to Britain in 2004.
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