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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 04:20 GMT 05:20 UK
Support for Abbey slavery protest
Toyin Agbetu, protester, with a police officer
Toyin Agbetu was arrested following his outburst at Westminster Abbey
A man who disrupted a service marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade has been supported by some Christians of African descent.

Campaigner Toyin Agbetu, 39, stood in front of the altar shouting demands for an apology at the Queen and Tony Blair at the Westminster Abbey commemoration.

The African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance's Rev Katei Kirby said many in the congregation sympathised with him.

Miss Kirby said some people were unhappy with the tone of the service.

History and heritage

The event included testimony from a slave, the singing of spirituals, and African horns and drums.

However, Miss Kirby said a significant numbers of Africans and Caribbeans present had felt strongly that the impact of the slave trade on their history and heritage had not been adequately recognised.

Miss Kirby, chief executive of the alliance, blamed the language used, saying it gave rise to the feelings of "alienation and misrepresentation" that were voiced by the protester.

She said: "A significant number of Africans and Caribbeans who attended the service share the view that it was an important and appropriate event to have, but feel quite strongly that there was insufficient opportunity for inclusion and due recognition of the impact of the slave trade on our history and heritage.

"The language used throughout the liturgy could - and in my view should - have been part of that process, but sadly in some places it was not and gave rise to the feelings of alienation and misrepresentation that were voiced by the protester in the service."

Walk out

The service was almost over when Mr Agbetu began shouting: "This is an insult to us."

He condemned African Christians for taking part and told them to walk out.

The service resumed minutes later after security guards led him outside and he was arrested.

The commemoration was held to commemorate the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act which became law in March 1807.


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The protestor is removed from Westminster Abbey





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