There were chaotic scenes outside a London mosque yesterday as supporters of radical cleric Anjem Choudary, who had been telling Muslims not to vote, clashed with members of the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First (BF) during Friday prayers.
The Evening Standard reports that around 100 EDL and BF members gathered outside London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre and were kept apart from Choudary’s supporters by police. The scene was further complicated after some Muslims started shouting abuse at Choudary, accusing him of being as bad as the EDL and BF members.
Although police managed to keep the rival camps apart, there were minor scuffles away from the main scene, including an incident where officers were forced to separate a group of Muslim men from a group of EDL supporters, one of whom was dressed in a burqa and waving a placard.
Choudary had been handing out leaflets telling Muslims not to vote in next month’s general election, claiming democracy is against Islamic values. One passage read: “Only God can make things lawful and unlawful. If a human being does this … this is considered the most heinous crime.”
The EDL and BF supporters were heard chanting “It’s our country and we want it back” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B, while waving English and British flags, with some also wearing pig masks.
Some fellow Muslims challenged him, however, accusing him of inciting the anti-Muslim protests.
Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, said his group were protesting against Choudary: “We were here last year too. It was like Rorke’s Drift … just us in the middle of thousands of angry Muslims,” he told the Guardian.
Britain First March to central London mosque. Edl already there (one chants “Britain First off our streets”) https://t.co/bNymlfbn6R
— Ben Quinn (@BenQuinn75) April 3, 2015