UK-Muslim leaders dismayed by far-right march

UK-Muslim leaders dismayed by far-right march
Protesters walk across Waterloo Bridge during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in London, Britain, June 13, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 June 2020

UK-Muslim leaders dismayed by far-right march

UK-Muslim leaders dismayed by far-right march
  • Following more than a week of largely peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) marches in central London, Sunday saw a protest of a very different nature

LONDON: Leaders from the UK’s Muslim community have expressed their dismay at a far-right march that took place in London on Sunday.

Following more than a week of largely peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) marches in central London, Sunday saw a protest of a very different nature.

Organized by a coalition of far-right groups — including the English Defence League and the Football Lads Alliance — and ostensibly to protect historically significant statues, the protest quickly descended into rampant racism and violence against police and BLM demonstrators.

Khalid Anis, chairman of the Islamic Society of Britain, told Arab News that he was “disappointed” that the far-right march even took place.

“It didn’t surprise me that it descended into an alcohol-fueled brawl. The attacks on police, the Nazi salutes and the spitting on people in parks — it was just appalling,” he said.

“I hope the full weight of the law is brought upon them. The Britain that I recognize and love, home to me and my family, is the antithesis to what we saw on the street.”

Muddassar Ahmed, a board member to the Faiths Forum for London, told Arab News that it was “upsetting to see so many people leave their homes during a pandemic to essentially march against the presence of people like me — Muslims — in the country.”

To him, the BLM movement better represents the Britain he knows. The far-right protestors “were demonstrating against the progressive, open-minded Britain that already exists,” he said.

“They’re a relic of a racist past. Britishness is about being open with other cultures and being open-minded. In a way, they were very anti-British.”

Police say 23 officers were injured in Sunday’s protest, and they have so far made 113 arrests.

Those arrested included a man who has now been jailed for urinating on a memorial to a police officer who died confronting a terrorist in 2017. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Racist thuggery has no place on our streets … Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality.”