Over a thousand British Muslims took to the streets of London on Tuesday in a show of force, blocking off a central London square to call for a caliphate while the crowd chanted ‘Allahu Akbar’.
We need a Caliph who will clean up these streets / Who will smack up armies and who will back beef [fighting]. / Backhand your missiles back to your land, that’s the plan. / World domination at hand. We can expand and take out these fools.
Those were the words of a poet invited to address the raucous crowd outside the Syrian Embassy in central London who cheered and yelled Allahu Akbar (Allah is the greatest) in support of his calls for war.
Eschewing an alternative demonstration in support of Syria taking place outside Downing Street on the grounds that they did not support the British government, the protesters heard speeches by Moazzam Begg of CAGE, editor of 5Pillars Dilly Hussain, and Hizb ut-Tahrir member Ibtihal Bsis among others.
Lanes of traffic were blocked off in London’s Belgrave Square as the protest got underway at about 9pm, with a prayer session outside the Syrian embassy. The building has lain empty since May 2012 when the Syrian ambassador to the UK was expelled by the British government.
The crowd, mostly drawn from mosques across London, was largely self-segregated with many of the women wearing Islamic clothing. It soon grew to block off the entire road, with many in the crowd waving what looked to be the Taliban flag, while others were handed placards made by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, which calls for the reestablishment of a caliphate. It is not clear who organised the demonstration.
Following prayers, a series of speakers addressed the crowd, talking for over an hour amidst constant interruption in the form of cheers of support.
Asim Qureshi, director of the Muslim rights group CAGE, which has been linked to extremism, laid the blame for the situation in Aleppo at America’s door, saying: “Never forget who is the problem here.
“When they say ‘look, America is the one who is going to come and help you in this’, then we have to remind them. Go back to the beginning of the war on terror when we were investigating cases of individuals being put on rendition flights to Syria where they had the soles of their feet beaten by the Syrian regime the moment they arrived in prison.
“And who sent them there? The Americans, the CIA.”
The speed at which the large gathering was drawn lies in stark contrast to a recent demonstration calling for the rapid implementation of Brexit. That event was widely publicised for a number of weeks on social media but only drew a few dozen people.
But Haitham al-Hadad, a Saudi-trained Salafist Muslim, congratulated last night’s crowd on drawing together to rapidly and in such large numbers. “This gathering today – in a matter of a few hours, hundreds of brothers and sisters coming together – is a sign of positivity and revival, and a sign of victory for Allah,” he said.