'Right-wing activists have been banned from entering the UK and held in ‘detention centers’, sparking a free-speech debate on the streets of London. Members of Generation Identity (GI) and Antifa clashed on Sunday.
Border police held three high-profile members of GI just months after the group opened its UK wing. Martin Sellner, Brittany Pettibone and Lauren Southern were detained as they tried to make their way to London.
GI, seen by some as the European equivalent of America’s so-called ‘alt-right’ has been recruiting in the UK and attempting to spread its message, but a fierce left-wing opposition has seen meetings shut down and rallies interrupted. GI has an anti-Islam, nationalist message propagated through slick social media videos.
First, Sellner, the Austrian co-founder of GI, was held with activist and American girlfriend Pettibone at Luton Airport on Friday. The pair was detained when their plane touched down.
Speaking to fans on Periscope before she too was detained, Southern, from Canada, said her peers were being kept in a “detention center.”
“I’m just in absolute shock right now. They took them away in different locked vehicles and drove them to detention centers,” she said.
“[Pettibone]’s having to call people from a detention centre phone. They gave them very specific reasons. One they were going to interview Tommy Robinson and Martin Sellner is part of GI – a right wing group – they said ‘we are detaining you and banning you from the united kingdom because you are right wing.’
“This is political discrimination – this is political profiling. I was supposed to go there tomorrow. God knows what will happen to me, will I be put in a detention centre? I can’t see my friends because of their political opinions. I can’t meet one of my best female friends to talk about right wing politics.”
On Monday morning, Southern took to Twitter to announce she was being held in Calais after trying to enter Britain by bus. Southern joked online she had self-identified as “Pakistani” to French police as she was held in Calais.'
However, angered supporters called on the government to be clear about what was happening.'
Read more: Free speech or hate speech? Right-wing activists ‘banned’ from Britain
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