Anti-Israel rally moved due to threats

Annual London event changes venues after far-right organization urges supporters to oppose the it.

london al quds day 248.88 (photo credit: )
london al quds day 248.88
(photo credit: )
An anti-Israel demonstration scheduled to take place on Sunday afternoon in central London was forced to change venues following threats by a far-right group. Police made the decision to move the annual Al Quds Day demonstration in London - an annual anti-Israel event held at the end of Ramadan to oppose Israel's control of Jerusalem - following the call from far-right organization the English Defense League (EDL) for its supporters to oppose the event. The London commemoration had been scheduled to take place in Trafalgar Square in central London, but police, working with the Greater London Assembly, moved it to a smaller area in Waterloo Place, off Pall Mall. The EDL had called on supporters to mount a counter-demonstration to the Iranian-sponsored, pro-Hizbullah event. On its Web site, the far-right group, which claims to be "peacefully protesting against militant Islam," posted before the event: "The Home Office bent over backwards to ban us from Luton, yet Hizbullah, a Muslim terrorist organization's supporters, are due to march through London this coming Sunday. We urge everybody who can to come to London to oppose this." In recent weeks, violent clashes in London, Luton and Birmingham between anti-Islamist demonstrators and Muslim counter-protesters have broken out, leading to a cabinet minister to raise fears of a return to 1930s fascism in Britain. Pro-Hizbullah and anti-Israel group the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the main organizer of Al Quds Day, working with other Islamist groups, accused authorities of "bowing" to pressure. Responding to the decision to move the rally, the group's spokesman, Reza Kazim, said: "At the last minute, after months of negotiation, the GLA [Greater London Assembly] told us two days ago we are not allowed to go ahead with the rally in Trafalgar Square. We are very annoyed. It seems they have bowed to the pressure from people like the English Defense League." Last year, Kazim was caught filming participants at celebrations for Israel's 60th anniversary in Trafalgar Square and was led away by police. At an anti-Israel protest in London's Hyde Park during the 2006 Lebanon war, Kazim and IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh both wore Hizbullah flags and chanted pro-Hizbullah slogans. Among the speakers at Al Quds Day on Sunday were Ahron Cohen of the anti-Israel Neturei Karta sect and Daud Abdullah from the Muslim Council of Britain. Abdullah is a signatory of the Istanbul Declaration, which celebrated, in the name of Islam, the Hamas "victory" in Gaza and condemned the Palestinian Authority for negotiating with Israel. At last year's Al Quds Day in London, Abdullah claimed Israel was attempting to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Over 100 far-right protesters turned up to protest Sunday's event, and heavy police presence held the two sides apart.