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Outrage as Islamic extremists vow to march through streets of Wootton Bassett


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Outrage as Islamic extremists vow to march through streets of Wootton Bassett



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 2:08 PM on 02nd January 2010



A town famous for honouring dead British soldiers returning from Afghanistan reacted defiantly today to news that a controversial Islamic group is to march through its streets.


Islam4UK - which calls itself a 'platform' for extremist movement al-Muhajiroun - plans to parade through Wootton Bassett, in Wiltshire, in the coming weeks.


The group's website says the event is being held 'not in memory of the occupying and merciless British military' but of the Muslims its says have been 'murdered in the name of democracy and freedom'.



article-0-07B8C05A000005DC-674_468x286.jpg Proud tribute: The town of Wootton Bassett has become a solemn symbol of the heroism of British troops killed in Afghanistan


Leader Anjem Choudary said today the protest, involving 500 people, would be peaceful one, with 'symbolic coffins' being carried to honour Muslim victims of the conflict.


But the walk will not coincide with the return of a dead soldier's body, added Mr Choudary, 42, a former lawyer from East London.

Hundreds of people line the market town's High Street every week to watch servicemen's bodies being driven through from RAF Lyneham.


Family and friends of the fallen, shopkeepers, and British Legion members wait in all weathers to pay silent tribute to a cortege of Union flag-draped coffins.

article-1193869-0562542A000005DC-929_468x286.jpg Radical: Anjem Choudary is planning to hold a march through the streets of Wootton Bassett



Ex-mayor and councillor Chris Wannell said today: 'We don't do what we do at Wootton Bassett for any political reason at all, but to pay our respects to those who have given their lives for our freedom.


'We are a Christian country and a traditional old English market town who honour very much our Queen and country. We obey the law and pay respects to our servicemen who protect our freedom.


'If this man has any decency about him he will not hold a march through Wootton Bassett.'

North Wiltshire MP James Gray said: 'I've seen in the past assorted groups threaten to march, but they don't actually do it. I wouldn't think they'd get permission from the police.


'The people of Wootton Bassett are not interested in politics. They will say, these are foolish people making a silly point - we'll get on with our ordinary lives thank you.


'This also misunderstands the nature of what the people of Wootton Bassett do. They are not blood-thirstily in favour of the war. Most people would say they were not qualified to comment on the rightness or wrongness.


'The people of Wootton Bassett are decent, quiet, pragmatic people and they'll stay at home instead (of reacting to the march).'

Secretary of Wootton Bassett British Legion Anne Bevis urged the group to reconsider.

She told the Swindon Advertiser: 'I would say however, that I do hope members of this group think long and hard about the rights of the people of Wootton Bassett before going ahead with their proposal.

'The repatriations have never been political. We turn out to pay our respects to those who have lost their lives and support the families who must carry on without them.'

A spokeswoman for Wiltshire Police said it respected the right to peaceful protest but would deal with any breach of the law appropriately.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1240044/Outrage-Islamic-extremists-vow-march-streets-Wootton-Bassett.html#ixzz0bSyA56QE

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Choudary compares British troops to Nazi stormtroopers as 210,000 sign Facebook bid to stop his Islamic extremist march



By Ian Drury and Andy Dolan

Last updated at 7:32 PM on 04th January 2010





  • Brown says march would be 'completely inappropriate'
  • Cleric sends open letter to families of dead UK troops


The hate preacher organising a march of Islamic extremists through the streets of Wootton Bassett sparked outrage today by comparing British troops fighting in Afghanistan to Nazi stormtroopers.

As more than 210,000 people signed an internet petition objecting to the march, Anjem Choudary said he had chosen to protest in the town - renowned for honouring soldiers killed in Afghanistan - because it would attract 'maximum attention'.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said tonight such a march would be 'abhorrent and offensive'.

But in remarks designed to cause maximum offence, Choudary compared fallen British heroes to Nazi stormtroopers and the September 11 and July 7 terrorists. He even claimed his plan was backed by families of servicemen and women.



article-1240318-07C19E9F000005DC-667_468x336.jpg Protest preacher: Anjem Choudary of Islam4UK outside the Palaces of Westminster in central London today


Admitting a march through the town would be 'provocative', he launched into a bizarre explanation of why he opposed crowds honouring fallen British soldiers.


'The same could be said about the Germans fighting for Nazism in the Second World War,' he said. 'Those involved in 7/7 and 9/11 considered themselves to be soldiers.


'How would the British people feel if there was a parade for those who carried out 9/11 or 7/7?'

Choudary said 500 of his radical group Islam4UK would carry 'symbolic coffins' in memory of the Muslim civilians 'murdered by merciless' coalition forces.


The firebrand cleric this morning tried to defend the march in an open letter published on his website, entitled 'To the families of British soldiers who have fallen'.






Choudary, a former lawyer, said today: 'The procession is not actually about the people of Wootton Bassett and it never was about them.

'We are having a procession, it's in Wootton Bassett but it's not about the people there and it's not against them personally - rather it's to highlight the real cost of war in Afghanistan.

'The sad reality of the situation is that if I were to hold it somewhere else it would not have the media attention that it has now.


'If I am to balance between the sensitivity of having it in Wootton Bassett and the possibility of continuing the quagmire and cycle of death in Afghanistan, then quite honestly I'm going to balance in favour of the latter.




Enlarge article-1240318-07C18DAE000005DC-525_468x331.jpg The Facebook petition which has been signed by almost 200,000 people


'In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be engaging with the local community and the public at large by way of press releases and letters to explain why we're having this march.'

But MPs, military chiefs, moderate Muslims and councillors expressed horror that 42-year-old Choudary was 'hijacking' the town for political purposes.

Gordon Brown condemned the march in a statement, and said the Wiltshire town had assumed a 'special significance' in the life of the nation which should be respected.


He said: 'I am personally appalled by the prospect of a march in Wootton Bassett.


'I believe that we as a nation should honour those brave servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

'Wootton Bassett has a special significance for us all at this time, as it has been the scene of the repatriation of many members of our armed forces who have tragically fallen.

'Any attempt to use this location to cause further distress and suffering to those who have lost loved ones would be abhorrent and offensive.'


In less than 48 hours, more than 211,000 people joined a Facebook campaign opposing the march by Islam4UK, which calls itself a 'platform' for the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun.

Petition organiser Jo Cleary, who works with service families, urged supporters to express their 'alarm and distress' to Wiltshire Police in a bid to stop the plan.

She said: 'This group can march anywhere it wishes in the country but has chosen Wootton Bassett to cause outrage and offence. We need our politicians to make a statement saying that this march will never take place.'



Peter Fullarton, whose son James, 24, was killed by a Taliban bomb only weeks after proposing to his fiancee last year, said the Government must ban the march or risk an 'uproar'.

article-1240318-02D88E9A000005DC-493_468x302.jpg Dignified: Wootton Bassett has a tradition of parading the coffins of local soldiers who died in combat


He said: 'Not only will it be an incredible insult to our war dead and to the fantastic town of Wootton Bassett, but there could be a riot, white extremists could use it as justification for attacks, people could end up being killed. We lost 108 soldiers in Afghanistan last year. For them, if for nobody else, these sickening plans must be stopped.'

Steve Minter, whose son-in-law Serjeant Paul McAleese was also killed by a bomb, said: 'I am all for free speech, but this is an abuse of our tolerant democracy.


'Too many of these extremists have been allowed to make Britain their home because they have won the right to political asylum, then they abuse our decency by putting forward views that would lead to execution in their own country.


'If this march goes ahead - and I hope to God it does not - the police will have an awful job on their hands. I for one will be there to protest.'


Open letter: Anjem Choudary's message to the Families of British Soldiers who have died or who are currently in Afghanistan

Shahid Murasaleen, from the moderate Muslim group Minhajul-Quran International UK, said: 'Extremists like these always claim to speak for Islam and British Muslims yet they are not qualified to do either. This march will achieve nothing other than to incite hate crime against innocent law-abiding Muslims.'

The market town near Swindon has become a symbol of the public's respect for the troops who make the ultimate sacrifice. Hundreds of mourners line the High Street to pay silent tribute to service personnel repatriated through nearby RAF Lyneham.

Former mayor Chris Wannell said: 'We are a traditional old English market town who honour very much our Queen and country. If this man has any decency about him he will not hold a march through Wootton Bassett.'

Wiltshire Police confirmed that they were aware of the plan, although Choudary had not contacted them. Islam4UK will have to tell police the date, time and route of a proposed procession.

A police spokesman said: 'If a march is believed to be likely to result in serious disorder, disruption or damage, then the police can impose conditions upon the organiser.

In exceptional circumstances, police may apply to the local authority for an order prohibiting such a march.'


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