(AFP) The radical Muslim group Al-Muhajiroun will not back down from plans to hold a demonstration on Sunday in central London despite a ban imposed by the city authorities and their threat to sue the organisers. “Al-Muhajiroun do not have permission to hold a rally on Trafalgar Square and they have not applied for permission,” a spokesperson for the city authorities said. The city had sent a letter to the head of the group’s British branch but had received no reply.
Up to 700 sympathisers are expected to attend the event, aimed at converting non-Muslims to the faith. There are fears that the extreme-right British National Party (BNP) might organise a rival demonstration in Trafalgar Square, a favourite haunt of tourists in London.
The Muslim Parliament, an umbrella for a number of mainstream Muslim organisations in Britain, condemned the proposed march.
“To allow Al-Muhajiroun to use a public place like Trafalgar Square is simply unacceptable,” said parliament leader Ghayasuddin Siddiqui. The work of proselytisation, he added, should be confined to mosques and islamic centres.
Al-Muhajiroun’s spiritual leader, Omar Bakri Muhammad, announced that the meeting, an annual event in its calendar for a decade, would go ahead as usual and was perfectly legal. He suggested that London Mayor Ken Livingstone “should check the law”.
Muhammad said he did not think there would be any public order disturbance: “The BNP always come but the police are aware of the demonstration.”
In 2003, an Al-Muhajiroun spokesman, Abu Omar, described the suicide bombers in the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States as “the magnificent 19”.