Peter Marshall | 01.11.2009 22:27 | Anti-racism
Shaaz Mahboob BMSD
The proposed march had been condemned fairly widely both by Muslims and non-Muslims across the political spectrum in the UK. Its organisers were Islam4UK, which describes itself as a platform for al-Muhajiroun, an organisation that dissolved itself after the UK government announced its intention to ban it (and its two succesor organisations were then banned under the Terrorism Act, and its founder Omar Bakri Muhammad was banned from re-entering Britain.)
A public debate on Sharia Law in London in June 2009 at which former al-Muhajiroun leader Anjem Choudary of Islam For the UK planned to relaunch al-Muhajiroun had to be abandoned after the owners of the hall refused to allow the forced segregation of men and women which was being enforced by al-Muhajiroun security guards.
Some of the groups planning to oppose the march, including Muslims4UK and The Islamic Society of Britain, called off their planned counter-demo, but supporters of other groups including British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the English Democrats and March For England and possibly a few from the EDL. Later I heard reports that more of the EDL had been wandering around the Parliament Square area where the March4Shariah had been planned to start.
The atmosphere at Piccadilly Circus was quiet and friendly and although there were several police vans down the street there was nothing for them to do. The right wing demonstrators talked and gave interviews in which they were insistent that they were not racist or opposed to Muslims in any way, but simply opposed to the imposition of sharia law in the UK. For the most part the two groups of protesters kept a few yards apart, but some of the English Democrats and others did come to talk with the Muslim groups. One young man who did express a racist view was rapidly told by his friends he was out of order.
Moderate Muslims also object the interpretation of sharia by Islam4UK and al-Muhajiroun and their desire for Britain to become a part of a universal caliphate govverned by sharia law. Nor would the great majority of Muslims here be in favour of most of the other ideas on the Islam4UK web site such as their aim to see Buckingham Palace converted into a "beautiful mosque", the Queen forced to wear a burkha, the replacement of Nelson's statue with "an exquisitely constructed Islamic clock" and "the banning of indecent organisations that are deemed anti-Islamic" from holding processions, demonstrations and concerts in Trafalgar Square.
Right-wing British newspapers use views like this, put forward by a tiny minority, to stir up hatred against all British Muslims, the vast majority of whom equally opposed to them as the rest of the population.
More pictures on Demotix
and more still on My London Diary in a couple of days time