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Conspiracy theorist David Icke should be banned from Australia, minister told

The Guardian logo The Guardian 1/02/2019 Paul Karp

David Icke © Getty David Icke The Australian government is being pressured by Jewish groups and the Labor party to revoke the visa of the conspiracy theorist David Icke before a speaking tour in March.

Labor has written to the immigration minister, David Coleman, calling on him to ban Icke from the country on the basis ofhis “extreme antisemitic views, including campaigning for Holocaust denial to be taught in schools”.

Icke is best known for his theory that the world is run by a cabal of giant shape-shifting lizards. According to the Anti-Defamation Commission, Icke believes “Rothschild Zionists” secretly dominate the world and that Jews bankrolled Hitler, caused the 2008 global financial crisis and staged the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Community Security Trust, a charity set up to protect the Jewish community, has described Icke as “essentially a hate preacher with a 21st-century spin on a very old antisemitic conspiracy theory”.

Icke has long been the subject of controversy in Australia, where the immigration department retains a broad discretion to deny or revoke visas on character grounds, and last toured the country in 2016.

In December there was uproar in the US after the Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker recommended Icke’s book And the Truth Shall Set You Free in an interview with the New York Times Book Review.

The promoters of the Everything You Need to Know tour have claimed that Icke has been granted a visa, with appearances locked in for Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Sydney, starting on 1 March.

Labor’s candidate in the Victorian seat of Macnamara, Josh Burns, wrote that Icke “promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories and has an extensive history of spreading hate” and called on Coleman to revoke his visa.

Burns’ intervention follows similar calls from the ADC, whose chairman, Dvir Abramovich, warned that Icke’s visit “would only bolster extremist sentiment and may give rise to violence”.

Owing to anti-immigrant sentiment in some quarters, Australia has struggled with the rise of the far right, including the attempted infiltration of the Nationals party by Nazis and a high-profile fascist rally at St Kilda supported by the Queensland senator Fraser Anning.

Burns said the neo-Nazi march showed “the very real dangers of the rise of neo-Nazism and antisemitism in Australia”.

“Fighting racism and antisemitism should be something all political parties are united on.

“It is imperative that the government stop racist hate preaches like Mr Icke visiting Australia and profiting off racism.”

Alex Ryvchin, the co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, commended Burns’ call for helping “to bring to light just how unhinged Icke’s views are”.

“[Icke’s] conspiracy theories always find favour in weak minds and his claims that Jews financed everything from the slave trade to the Holocaust, and carry out false flag attacks, appeal to all varieties of extremists,” Ryvchin said.

Abramovich told Guardian Australia he was “very confident” Coleman would “seriously consider” the ADC’s call to revoke Icke’s visa.

Icke accused his critics of “a laughable and outrageous misrepresentation” of his views and said he “won’t even be mentioning Jewish people or Zionism in my talks in Australia”.

He said he believed “labels of race, colour, religion, income bracket etc … are merely transitory experiences and not a reflection of the true ‘I’”, which he said was “the ultimate non-racist way of looking at life”.

“If the immigration minister David Coleman acts on this extraordinary misrepresentation of my views he will reveal that freedom of speech and assembly is over in Australia.”

Australia has blocked visas for several far-right figures including the Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and Lauren Southern, as well as in other politically controversial cases such as Chelsea Manning.

Coleman and the home affairs department said they would not comment on individual cases.

“For visitors who may hold controversial views, any risk they may pose will be balanced against Australia’s well-established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs, amongst other relevant considerations,” the department’n said.

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