UK

Channel 5 Big Immigration Debate Sparks Fury Over Anjem Choudary Appearance

18/02/2014 08:13 GMT | Updated 18/02/2014 08:59 GMT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Anjem Choudary, the founder of the banned extremist network Choudary Led, delivers his speech at a discussion on the upcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 18, 2010. The leader of the Islamist group banned in Britain, praised Osama bin Laden and called the country's Muslim president an apostate who was destined for hell. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, the leader of the now banned Islam4UK, said "there will be other Lee Rigbys" during a heated debate on immigration.

He also joked about expecting Home Secretary Theresa May to change the law, so she can take away his British passport.

Fresh from taking on the debate over the welfare state, Channel 5 last night aired a special programme on the ever-so-simple and light-hearted topic of immigration, including contributions from Choudary, and also a failed Apprentice candidate, a former pop star, and a woman famous for having been married to the England football manager.

Former editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, was also on the panel.

But none sparked such a reaction on social media as Choudary, with many questioning why he should be allowed on the programme.

In an interview with one of the presenters, Nick Ferrari, Choudary said: "Afghanistan is not occupying Britain. Britain (sic) are going to Muslim countries and killing people.

"This will have repercussions in this country and unless we wake up to this fact, there will be other Lee Rigbys."

Choudary declined Mr Ferrari's offer to condemn the killing of Lee Rigby, pointing out that although Fusilier Rigby was a drummer, he was also a soldier who had also served in Afghanistan.

Asked if he saw himself as a British Muslim, he said: "I am a Muslim living in Britain, who has a British passport - I think it's a matter of time before Theresa May changes the law and takes my passport away."

He also spoke of a "fear factor" when commenting on one of the findings of the programme's exclusive poll; that a majority of people surveyed wanted immigration to the UK reduced or stopped altogether.

Choudary blamed the recession and that people believed immigrants were coming to take their jobs or putting a burden on the National Health Service. "There is a fear factor - that the foreigner is causing trouble for them", he said.

Outspoken ex-Apprentice contender Katie Hopkins, said she believed Britain was a "completely soft touch".

"If you need an interpreter in order to get benefits from our system, you need a travel agent in instead!

"I’ve always said if you go into a school playground and shout Mohammad; you’ll probably get 100 children running towards you."

Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of The Sun, where Hopkins now has a column, disagreed: “I’d like to see more immigrants come to our country. People in the UK are not prepared to put in the amount of work that the immigrants are prepared to do. I feel sorry for those who feel threatened by the income of very bright people."

Other contributions came from Tony Smith, former head of UK border agency, Nancy Dell’Olio,the Italian lawyer and reality TV star who dated ex-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, and Adam Rickitt, a one-hit popstar.

The programme's choice of contributors also gained Channel 5 a fair amount of flack on Twitter: