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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Respect holds Islamophobia rally
George Galloway
Mr Galloway is the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London
A rally in London on the "causes and consequences" of Islamophobia is to be part of the annual conference of the anti-war Respect coalition.

The debate will also cover the row over veiled Muslim women in the UK and has been "opened to all comers" as well as the 400 delegates, a spokesman said.

The two-day conference will also reflect on the party's gains in May on councils in London and Birmingham.

George Galloway helped to found Respect after the Labour Party expelled him.

He also demanded the resignation of Commons leader Jack Straw last week, after the Blackburn MP revealed that he asked constituents to remove facial veils when they met him.

"The veil has become such a big issue, we thought that it would be good to draw people, at least from across London, who wanted to hear some of the discussion and arguments around it," party spokesman Rob Hoveman told the BBC News website.

Saturday 14 October
1045: War and civil liberties
1245: Environment
1415: Trade unions
1530: Rally
Sunday 15 October
1015: Defending public services
1145: Students
1345: Organisation and strategy
1530: Councillors
1600: National Council election

Mr Galloway would lead the rally on Saturday afternoon, he added.

The party will use the conference - its second annual gathering - to discuss its policies for the coming year, as well as electing its governing body and discussing organisational issues.

Respect made significant gains in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets in this year's local elections, going from one councillor to 11.

In nearby Newham it won a third seat, and it took 55% of the vote in the Sparkbrook and Small Heath ward on Birmingham city council.

But Mr Galloway also gained notoriety when he appeared as a contestant on Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother reality show, where famously he was seen imitating a cat.

He went down on all fours, purred and pretended to lick cream from the hands of actress Rula Lenska.

He insisted his participation was good for politics - but some political rivals claimed he was neglecting his constituents.


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