ISLAMISTS are to mark The Mercian Regiment’s first march through Swadlincote by holding a counter-demonstration demanding ‘the withdrawal of British troops from Muslim lands’.
The planned protest emerged 48 hours after the Mail revealed that the battalions would parade through the town after accepting an invitation to receive the freedom of South Derbyshire.
Zakeel Abbas, the former Midlands spokesman of banned web-based group Islam4UK, said:
“We as Muslims living in Britain will be holding a counter-demonstration against these soldiers as a voice for all those innocent men, women and children killed and murdered by these socalled heroes.
The presence of British soldiers in the Muslim lands has caused outrage and unease in the Muslim community, especially the youth, which has led to a mass increase in radicalisation.
As a Muslim living in Britain I believe I have a covenant of security as long as my life, wealth and honour are protected. As we have seen, some don’t believe this and an example is 7/7.
The only solution is that the British Government withdraw its troops from the Muslim lands now.”
Thousands of protesters from throughout Europe could join the demonstration, predicted Mr Abbas, a 33-year-old with no fixed address who spends time in Burton.
Waving banners bearing slogans, they would hold a peaceful rally which would target soldiers who, although acting on the Government’s instructions, were ‘not robots’ but people with thoughts and emotions capable of distinguishing between right and wrong.
Mr Abbas said he would contact the authority about the demonstration.
However, council leader Bob Wheeler said: “We are very proud the Mercian Regiment has accepted the invitation and I expect that pride is felt by the overwhelming majority of the people of South Derbyshire. I understand there may be those that don’t agree and they have a right to their opinions and they also have a perfect right to peaceful protest.”
Opposition Labour group leader Kevin Richards said: “It upsets me because we have all forms of race and religion within the armed forces and they are all out there doing their jobs, whether they are in Afghanistan or other countries.”
Council chief executive Frank McArdle said: “I can confirm we have received a telephone call regarding the proposed parade. The caller indicated his objection and stated he intended to organise a demonstration in protest."
No date has been set by the regiment for the parade. The public will be kept informed as soon as it has been arranged.