London, The Arab Weekly – More than 550,000 people signed a petition calling for Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump to be banned from entering the United Kingdom, making it the most signed petition in British history.
The petition drive started after Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and claimed that British police refuse to enter “radicalised” areas of London.
Trump shocked people across the world when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”, in the wake of the San Bernardino, California, shootings.
Seeking to justify his initial proposal, Trump increased the controversy by claiming that parts of London and Paris were so “radicalised” they were effectively out of police control and that US politicians needed to take action to prevent the same happening in their country.
“Paris is no longer the safe city it was. They have sections in Paris that are radicalised, where the police refuse to go there.
They’re petrified. We have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that the police are afraid for their own lives,” Trump claimed in an interview with MSNBC.
More than 550,000 people signed the petition calling for Trump to be barred from the United Kingdom. “The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK,” the petition said.
“If the UK is to continue the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor and the weak as well as powerful,” it added.
An opposing petition, branding the calls to ban Trump from the United Kingdom as “illogical” and saying Trump should not be barred was signed by fewer than 40,000 people.
However, the second most signed petition on the government website appeared to echo Trump’s view, calling on the government to “stop all immigration and close the UK borders until ISIS is defeated”.
That petition, which received more than 450,000 signatures, had been the most signed petition until Trump’s controversial comments.
The UK government is obliged to respond to any petition that garners more than 10,000 signatures, while parliament will consider for debate any petition that garners more than 100,000 signatures.
Responding to the earlier petition, which was issued in September and echoes Trump’s anti-immigration policy, the UK government said it had no intention of closing Britain’s borders. “This would create more problems than it would solve,” the government said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron described Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States as “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong” in a statement issued by Downing Street but the government has yet to formally respond to the petition to ban Trump.
Commenting on Trump’s claims regarding “radicalised” parts of London being no-go areas for the police, London Mayor Boris Johnson described the Republican front runner’s claim as “ill-informed” and “complete and utter nonsense”.
“As a city where more than 300 languages are spoken, London has a proud history of tolerance and diversity and to suggest there are areas where police officers cannot go because of radicalisation is simply ridiculous,” Johnson said.
But he appeared not to endorse the petition calling for Trump to be banned from the United Kingdom. “I would welcome the opportunity to show Mr Trump first-hand some of the excellent work our police officers do every day in local neighbourhoods throughout our city. Crime has been falling steadily both in London and in New York — the only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump,” the mayor said.
London’s Metropolitan Police issued a statement addressing Trump’s comments: “We would not normally dignify such comments with a response; however on this occasion, we think it’s important to state to Londoners that Mr Trump could not be more wrong.
“Any candidate for the presidential elections of the United States of America is welcome to receive a briefing from the Met Police on the reality of policing London.”
In what was a more predictable British response, hashtag #TrumpFacts trended on Twitter following Trump’s comments, with Britons throwing scorn on the Republican candidate’s claims by tweeting mocking images allegedly showing images of radicalisation. “The queen now wears a hijab instead of a crown due to radicalisation #TrumpFacts” read one tweet, accompanied by a genuine picture of Queen Elizabeth II wearing a headscarf.
Trump used the same format to respond: “The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest.”
This article was originally published here.