Friday, January 09, 2009

Brit Muslims: Gaza backlash to hit UK

THE Gaza conflict could spark a violent Islamic backlash in Britain, Muslim advisers warned the PM yesterday.

The alert came hours after dozens of police dodged missiles as they battled to separate hundreds of demonstrators outside the Israeli Embassy in London.
One cop was hurt and nine men were arrested in Wednesday night’s clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli factions in Kensington. Police were preparing for more angry scenes today.

Yesterday, 14 British Muslim advisers warned Gordon Brown that anger in their UK communities had reached “acute levels of intensity”.
They said Israel’s attacks on Gaza had “revived extremist groups and empowered their message of violence”. In a letter to the PM, they called for pressure to be put on the US to change its approach to the crisis.

Maajid Nawaz, of counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, said moderate groups needed to be able to explain the Government’s stance to British Muslims. This would help them counter the view put by hate-mongers that it was not doing enough or did not care about Palestinian deaths.

Meanwhile, Jewish communities in Britain have reported a significant rise in anti-Semitic attacks since Israel launched its offensive on December 27.
These include two serious assaults on Jews, an arson attack on a synagogue in Brondesbury Park, North West London, and death threats to rabbis in Manchester. The Community Security Trust, which advises Jews on security matters, said: “A week ago we were getting around 20 reports of incidents each day. This morning it was 30.
“It is upsetting and a concern, but we are getting on with our lives. The sooner things quieten down in the Middle East, the better.”

Yesterday, veteran peace campaigners Tony Benn and Brian Haw joined the launch of a non-stop vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament in protest at Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Activists plan to maintain a presence in Parliament Square around the clock until the Israeli military withdraws from Gaza and the violence ends.
Ex-cabinet minister Mr Benn, 83, who retired from Parliament in 2001, called it a “massive humanitarian crisis”. Police are bracing themselves for potential clashes between rival protesters tomorrow. A Stop The War march is planned at Hyde Park and a Jewish rally at Trafalgar Square.

Other demos are planned on Sunday in London and Manchester.
Meanwhile, a probe has been launched into violent confrontations that took place after up to 12,000 people gathered in Whitehall last Saturday.
Commander Bob Broadhurst, responsible for public order policing by the Met, said: “For the last 11 days we have policed a number of demonstrations in central London by those who wanted to express their views about the ongoing conflict. We are now preparing for further protests.
“I am mindful of the deeply passionate response that this conflict causes in people.”

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