170 000 sign petition to ban Trump from Britain

Muslim men pray at a mosque in Jersey City. (Jewel Samad, AFP)
Muslim men pray at a mosque in Jersey City. (Jewel Samad, AFP)

London - More than 170 000 people had signed a petition by Wednesday to prevent Donald Trump from entering Britain for "hate speech" after his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

But Chancellor George Osborne rejected the call for a ban, saying it was better to confront such "nonsense" by engaging in a "robust, democratic argument".

"That is the best way to deal with Donald Trump and his views rather than trying to ban presidential candidates," Osborne told parliament.

The petition noted that Britain had already "banned entry to many individuals for hate speech".

"If the United Kingdom is to continue applying 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 said.

The government is required to respond to any petition attracting more than 100 000 supporters and consider it for a parliamentary debate.

"I think the best way to defeat nonsense like this is to engage in robust, democratic debate and make it very clear his views are not welcome," Osborne said.

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier said the US presidential candidate's statement was "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong". 

Trump also angered British politicians and police by telling a US broadcaster that parts of London were "so radicalised the police are afraid for their own lives".

Osborne said London's police "do a brilliant job and of course they have fantastic relations with British Muslims".

The BBC quoted London Mayor Boris Johnson as saying Trump's claim was "simply ridiculous".

"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," Johnson said.

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