Rupa Huq at Centre of Row Over Exclusion of Polish Commentator

Right-wing media personality refused entry to UK

Rupa Huq MP Rupa Huq MP

Ealing Central and Acton MP has been at the centre of a row of the exclusion of a high profile Polish media figure from the UK.

Polish media personality Rafal Ziemkiewicz was detained at Heathrow Airport on Saturday 25 September by the British Border Force. He says he was travelling to the country with his wife and daughter who was due to start her studies at Oxford University.

Rupa Huq had previously managed to get his entry to the country blocked in 2018 when he was due to make a speaking tour including an engagement in Acton.

This time she posted details on Twitter of an official refusal of entry by the Border Force which said that Mr Ziemkiewicz was told that his conduct and views "are at odds with British values and likely to cause offence."

Mr Ziemkiewicz then returned to Warsaw for holding views “not conducive to the public good” in the words of the Home Office.

The Polish media have reported that he was searched and had his fingerprints taken before being sent home. Mr Ziemkiewicz was quoted as saying afterwards, "I wanted to attend the inauguration of the academic year, I'm proud that my daughter was accepted to study there.

"I was arrested with other men, most of whom I could not communicate with in any European language. They came from Africa, some middle- and far-eastern countries."

The Polish authorities have said they were kept informed by the British Foreign Office of the issue and the UK Ambassador to Poland, Anna Clunes, was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry.

It is understood the meeting concluded with “no further action to be taken,” said an inside source.

Dr Huq said, “I have been in touch with our UK Ambassador and understand that she restated the UK Government’s position on freedom of speech and its limitations.”

The backbench Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton became embroiled in the matter after tweeting the news to her followers.

In 2018 when Ziemkiewicz had attempted a UK tour speaking in Slough, Cambridge and Acton all three Labour MPs for the areas Tan Singh Dhesi, Daniel Zeichner and Rupa Huq condemned the tour, with the latter writing in the Guardian on the matter claiming “The fact is free speech does not equate with hate speech”.

She says she then received a welter of Twitter abuse from some of Mr Ziemkiewicz’s supporters.

Mr Ziemkiewicz himself tweeted, “@RupaHuq is simply a liar. I never denied holocaust. Nobody can find such an idea in my over 30 books and uncountable press stories. Neither racism or islamophobia. The fact is - she is an anti-Semite herself. Shame on you, UK, having such a MP.”

The MP responded, “I was warned of Ziemkiewicz by constituents in 2018 and how he has sailed close to the wind with numerous controversial remarks on Muslims, Jews, the Holocaust and the LGBTQ community over a long-running career spanning several columns, books and tv appearances.

" Since then his comments on the morality of women and abortion have also caused offence. Whilst I learned of this recent decision via the web on Saturday after it happened I am pleased that the action was taken if it prevents problems for the police in handling breach of the peace issues as was foreseen in 2018 when Ziemkiewicz cancelled his visit.

“Although there has been quite a lot of twitter traffic from Ziemkiewicz fans and even the man himself in a concerted campaign condemning me often with accusations hurled my way and ‘go back to Bangladesh’ type comments with 99% in Polish cannot understand most and also have had many may positive emails and messages from Poles grateful to me, wishing he could be banned from Poland too. I’m not convinced sending me racist abuse is going to persuade the UK government of the anti-racist credentials of a guy they refused to admit for racism.”

UK based Polish journalist Stanisław Skarżyński of Gazeta Wyborcza commented, “He belongs to those supporting that twisted form of ‘sovereignty’ which populists employ all around the globe - so it is quite funny to see him criticising a decision made, after all, by a sovereign state. In one of his columns he wrote: ‘LGBT should be shot at! Not literally, of course - it needs to be fought against’. During one of the discussions about abortion rights he wrote on Twitter about a journalist, Anna Dryjańska, that she is ‘deformed, yet her mother born her’, for which he had to apologise. Digging this up made me weirdly happy that I do not live there anymore.”

In 2020, Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar decided to sue Mr Ziemkiewicz for anti-Semitic views after Ziemkiewicz criticised a Polish historian Jan Grabowski saying, “There is such a trip then one can land in prison for Holocaust denial, yet it’s a one-way street. So, if Mr Grabowski wants it much, let him go, because Jews should not be denied the responsibility for it, as these were not Poles who pushed Jews inside the train cars, hunted them, escorted form the ghetto, but other Jews, the Jewish police, based on lists made by Jewish Judenrats which managed it all.” The case has yet to be heard.

Aleksandra Tomczak an officer at Unite the Union stated, “This guy can’t walk the planet without insulting anyone. His words are poisonous. The reason I left Poland is because of people like him! His views are not welcomed in this country though and this is the most important thing!”

A Home Office spokesperson said, “Border Force play an integral role in the security and prosperity of the UK.

“They help to keep the public safe and every day ensure illicit goods or foreign nationals, including those deemed non-conducive to the public, are refused entry.” When pressed they added, “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

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October 14, 2021