George Galloway, the former British MP and the leader of the pro-Hamas group Viva Palestina, was denied entry into the United States last weekend when he planned to attend a series of fundraisers. Airline officials told him there were problems with his visa.
Galloway was scheduled to speak in five different cities on behalf of the Muslim Legal Fund of America. Instead, he spoke via live video link to gatherings in Kenner, La. and San Diego. Galloway told the Louisiana audience on Monday he was unsure whether his entry denial was the result of a bureaucratic mistake or political reasons.
"Nothing will stop me. Not the government of what they call Israel; not the government of Canada or the U.S.," Galloway declared. "I cannot be silenced…I hope the U.S. government understands that. We live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook. There will always be a way for me to speak."
He spoke for about an hour and a half via video link Sunday evening at the San Diego Muslim Legal Fund Benefit Dinner, also expressing his concerns about whether his denial into the U.S. was a mistake or something "more serious."
This incident is not the first time Galloway has had trouble entering foreign countries. After the third Viva Palestina convoy ended with violent clashes at the Egyptian/Gaza border, Galloway was declared "persona non grata" by the Egyptian foreign ministry in January, barring him from entering the country again. Last year, Galloway was scheduled to speak in four Canadian cities but was deemed inadmissible based on an immigration law barring foreign nationals who support terrorism. Galloway's Canadian lawyers argued in an Ontario federal court last April that the decision should be overturned because it was based on the government's pro-Israel bias. In September, a federal judge ruled that the government did not officially exclude Galloway from entering the country, and noted that he never tried to enter the country since the ban. Galloway delivered a speech in Canada to a crowd of hundreds in early October, and returned to Canada in November for a 10-day speaking tour.
Galloway's Viva Palestina convoys have successfully delivered millions of dollars to the Hamas regime in Gaza during four land convoys to the region. Galloway directly delivered cash to a Hamas minister during the first Viva Palestina convoy in March, 2009, and has met with and supported Hamas hardliners.
U.S. Reps. Sue Myrick, R-NC, and Brad Sherman, D-CA, have urged the government to take action against Galloway and his group. In a December, 2009 letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sherman wrote, "The borders of the United States should not remain open to individuals that provide support to recognized terror organization. Please act so that Mr. Galloway and others who solicit funds for terrorist organizations do not receive visas to visit the United States and determine whether Viva Palestine, IFCO and their leadership should be designated as supporters of a Foreign Terrorist Organization."
Galloway raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Viva Palestina on U.S. soil in 2009 and 2010.