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War of words over Islamist's Irish visit

SOCIALIST Workers' Party leader Richard Boyd-Barrett has called Ireland's solitary Jewish TD, Alan Shatter, "disgraceful" for calling on the Government to refuse entry to the head of the anti-Semitic, pro-Islamic Jihad TV station, Al-Manar. The satellite broadcaster Al-Manar is owned by the radical Islamic movement Hezbollah -- an organisation that also advocates the killing of homosexuals.

And the channel's head, Ibrahim Moussawi, has been invited to attend a Dublin conference organised the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), headed by Mr Boyd-Barrett.

However, Moussawi was banned from entering the United States after he reportedly referred to Jews as "a lesion on the forehead of history".

But Boyd-Barrett, whose Socialist Workers' Party is now re-branded "People Before Profit", said banning the Hezbollah representative from Ireland amounted to the suppression of "free public debate in this country".

Mr Shatter called on the Government to refuse entry to Moussawi because the TV station he represents regularly carries anti-Semitic programmes on which Jews have been termed "apes and pigs".

In November 2005, the station ran coverage of a Hezbollah conference at which one member said: "Just like Hitler fought the Jews, we are a great Islamic nation of Jihad and we too should fight the Jews and burn them". Another speaker called for "Israel to be wiped off the map". The French Government banned the station because of its anti-Semitism.

Hezbollah, which is supported by the Iranian government, is also fiercely anti-homosexual and has been accused of murdering a number of gay men in Lebanon. Iranian State television broadcasts the executions of gay men on live television.

Despite the inclusion of the Hezbollah figure along with a member of the Iraqi al-Sadr group, which has been accused of behind much of the violence in Iraq, representatives of the Government partners, the Green Party along with Labour and Sinn Fein are due to take part on the platform.

The conference is being held next weekend at the Royal Dublin Hotel under the auspices of the IAWM.

The line-up also includes Labour's Michael D. Higgins, Senator Dan Boyle and Patricia McKenna of the Green Party and Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh.

In reply to Richard Boyd-Barrett's comments, Mr Shatter, said: "To suggest as this conference does that this man will be speaking on 'democracy and resistance' in the Middle East is as bizarre as it gets. Hezbollah was implicated in the murder of its former prime minister, Rafic Hariri." Justice Minister Brian Lenihan said "no decision has been made" about Moussawi's visa application. The US Government has asked Ireland to refuse him entry.

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