Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010

Islamist group plans Wootton march

The hearses carrying the coffins of six dead soldiers
People in the town have lined the streets for the repatriation processions

An Islamist group said to have links to an extremist movement is planning to march through the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett.

The town has become famous for honouring British war dead returning from Afghanistan.

Islam4UK pledged the protest would be peaceful with symbolic coffins representing Muslim victims.

Wootton's former mayor Chris Wannell has called on the group's leader not to hold the march.

'Brutal crusade'

North Wiltshire MP James Gray said: "I've seen in the past assorted groups threaten to march, but they don't actually do it.

"I wouldn't think they'd get permission from the police."

Islam4UK is said to call itself a "platform" for the extremist movement al-Muhajiroun.

Leader of Islam4UK, former lawyer Anjem Choudary, said the march would not coincide with a repatriation ceremony.

Everyone has the right to protest, but it's not a very tactful place to do it
Councillor Jenny Stratton

On its website the group said it was "totally unacceptable" to honour servicemen who had contributed "directly or indirectly" to the deaths of "well over 100,000 Muslims in Afghanistan in the last 8 years".

"We at Islam4UK find this totally unacceptable and as a result have decided to launch the 'Wootton Bassett March' to highlight the real casualties of this brutal Crusade," the website states.

Mr Wannell said the townsfolk did not come out to honour the soldiers "for any political reason at all" but to pay their respects to "those who have given their lives for our freedom".

Wootton councillor Jenny Stratton said: "Everyone has the right to protest, but it's not a very tactful place to do it."

A spokeswoman for Wiltshire Police said: "Under the Public Order Act the organiser must inform the police of the date, time and route of the proposed procession, and the name and address of the organiser.

"If the march or procession is believed to be likely to result in serious disorder, disruption or damage, then the police can impose conditions upon the organiser.

"In exceptional circumstances, police may apply to the local authority for an order prohibiting such a march."

To date there had been no contact from Islam4UK or any other group wishing to arrange such a march in Wootton Bassett," the spokeswoman added.



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