(USA Today) Britain’s Parliament held a boisterous debate Monday on a proposal to ban Donald Trump from the country in a rebuke of his call to block Muslims from entering the United States.
The topic drew plenty of support from the British lawmakers, who don’t actually have the power ban anyone. The debate did allow members of Parliament to vent their frustrations about Trump’s comments.
“His words are not comical, his words are not funny. His words are poisonous and they risk inflaming tensions between vulnerable communities,” lawmaker Tulip Siddiq, a Muslim, told her colleagues in the House of Commons. “Hate crime is being inflamed by the words that Donald Trump is using.”
Another member of Parliament, Paul Flynn, cautioned that banning Trump could “fix on him a halo of victimhood.”
“We should greet the extreme things this man says with our own hospitality,” Flynn said. “But we shouldn’t build him up with our own attacks.”
Trump raised the ire of British Prime Minister David Cameron after last month’s terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif., by proposing to keep Muslims out until more rigorous security checks are in place. The Republican presidential hopeful also lashed out at the city of London, saying it has become so “radicalized” that police fear for their lives.
London’s Metropolitan Police quickly denied Trump’s London claim, and Cameron made headlines across Europe when he called Trump’s views “divisive, stupid and wrong.”
More than 570,000 Britons signed an online petition demanding that Trump be banned from the United Kingdom, prompting Monday’s debate. Members of Parliament also could consider a petition not to ban Trump, an appeal that drew 43,000 signatures.
“Donald Trump is no more than a demagogue. His policy to ban Muslims is bonkers,” British lawmaker Victoria Atkins said during the three-hour debate. “The answer is to challenge him in a robust, democratic argument about why he is wrong.”
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a Muslim lawmaker, dismissed concerns that banning Trump would just give him with more publicity. She said Trump already has plenty of that.
“Donald Trump is not just wrong, his views are dangerous and must be taken seriously,” she said. “His remarks are condemning an entire faith, which I practice. He’s talking about me, he’s talking about my family, he’s talking about my children.”
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The proposal drew plenty of support, but no vote was taken. Cameron has said he does not support banning Trump, claiming a visit would “unite the country” against Trump’s views. But Trump hasn’t taken the issue lightly, threatening to halt investment plans totaling more than $1 billion in Scotland if he gets turned away.
A decision to ban Trump would fall on Home Secretary Theresa May. If May did ban Trump, the real estate magnate wouldn’t be the only American placed on the home secretary’s list in recent years.
Conservative radio host Michael Savage was banned in 2009, accused of fostering hate and violence. Florida pastor Terry Jones, who made headlines in 2010 by planning to burn Qurans at a rally, was banned in 2011.
Several lawmakers noted that Parliament was debating a ban on one person. Trump’s proposal would ban 1.6 billion Muslims from the United States.
Added one lawmaker: “Thank god there aren’t 1.6 billion Donald Trumps.