Saturday, February 11, 2006

Thousands to join pro-Islam rally

Thousands to join pro-Islam rally

A mass rally by mainstream Muslims demonstrating against controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist is to be staged.

Organisers told BBC News they are expecting at least 30,000 people to go to central London's Trafalgar Square.

Public figures from across the political spectrum are due to speak.

The event aims to explain the views of moderate Muslims towards cartoons published in a Danish newspaper which led to worldwide protests.

Organisers also said it aims to dissociate the mainstream Muslim community from a "minority of extremists".

The rally on Saturday afternoon, called United Against Incitement and Islamophobia, has been organised by the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain and a number of Christian organisations, and has the backing of the Mayor of London.

Mayor Ken Livingstone singled out football thugs and extremists and warned them to stay away, saying police would halt any attempt to disrupt the demonstration.

Organiser Anas Altikriti, of the Muslim Association of Britain, said he was confident the demonstration would not be taken over by extremists.

He told BBC Five Live: "Our stewards are very vigilant, we're working very very closely with the police plus we have made absolutely sure that there will only be one official slogan on our T-shirts and on our placards, and that is 'united against incitement and united against islamophobia' - anything else is not down to the organisers."

'Civilised manner'

Protests held in London last week sparked outrage when demonstrators carried placards with messages which some said amounted to "incitement to murder".

Doctor Azam Tamimi, who is the director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, is due to speak at the demonstration and said it would be peaceful.

"The main purpose of the rally today is to object to what has been going on in a civilised manner.

"We have the right to be angry, but we have to do it within the remits of the law, and we have to respect the rights of others," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS: