It was to a march through Wootton Bassett
13th January 2010: Just about a week after Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned a controversial Islamic group’s plans to stage a march through Wootton Bassett, the British government has banned Islam4UK — the organization behind the march.
The march was to be taken through the town with empty coffins to protest the wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq. Expressing strong sentiments against the march, the British National Party (BNP) leaders had warned of physically blocking the road in Wootton Bassett, if the authorities permitted the march to proceed.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson too had made it clear he would have "no hesitation" in supporting a ban on the march, if police or the council requested one.
According to the available information, the order banning Islam4UK will come into force Thursday. With this, it is clear that being a member of the group will become a criminal offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Faced with condemnations, the group too announced the cancellation of its plans to hold a march through the small town known for regularly honouring British soldiers killed in foreign wars.
Giving details of the developments, Johnson said he had issued an order for proscribing al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organisation goes by.
The organisation, he said, was already proscribed under two other names — al-Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect.
He said proscription was a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and was not a course they took lightly.
Islam4UK leader Anjum Chaudhry, on the other hand, claimed the group had been “singled out for criticising British foreign policy”.
Refuting all allegations of the outfit or its members being involved in terrorism, Chaudhry told the BBC said the word terrorism meant the use of violence against the community. That was precisely what the government was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The ban came a day after five British Muslims were convicted for accusing British soldiers of being rapists, murderers and baby killers during a military homecoming parade last year in the town of Luton, around 60 km north of London.
District judge Carolyn Mellanby said: “I have no doubt it is abusive and insulting to tell soldiers to ‘Go to Hell’, to call soldiers murderers, rapists and baby killers. It is not just insulting to the soldiers, but to the citizens of Luton who were out on the streets that day to welcome soldiers home.”