We perish because we know not… #TLENews
At least 1,000 Muslim protesters gathered outside the gates of Downing Street to protest against the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine.
The protestors, many of whom were divided into groups of men and women, gathered just yards from the Cenotaph which remembers Britain’s war dead, and blocked half of Whitehall as they demonstated.
It comes weeks after two terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based satirical magazine which had published images of the Prophet Muhammad, killing 12 staff and wounding 11 others.
The protest was organised by the Muslim Action Forum, which said that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons had helped “sow the seeds of hatred” and had damaged community relations.
One young child, who appeared to be under the age of 10, stood next to a placard displaying the message: “Charlie and the abuse factory”.
A series of Muslim leaders addressed the crowd from a platform outside the Ministry of Defence, with the message “Be careful with Muhammad”.
The meeting was organised by the Muslim Action Forum, which was handing out leaflets about the demonstration on Whitehall.The leaflet said: “The recent re-publishing of the cartoons, caricatures and depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Charlie Hebdo magazine and other publishers is a stark reminder that freedom of speech if regularly utilised to insult personalities that others consider sacred.“Such actions are deliberating insulting and provoking to Muslims worldwide as British citizens, we believe that these publications will continue to ‘sow the seeds of hatred’ and damage community relations.
“In an already fragile world we need to move from actions of incitement, hatred and provocation to civility, consideration and respect.” In an apparent reference to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine the leaflet added that “regrettably some Muslims” had “taken the un-Islamic path of human destruction”.
It added: “The vast majority of Muslims worldwide shall not denigrate their historical and current values by reciprocating hatred.
“Muslims shall call upon their deep spiritual strength and take the moral high ground by inviting the world to civility in any form of expression, dialogue, discourse and debate.”
The Forum delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street signed by over 100,000 British Muslims to highlight the view that the majority of Muslims worldwide call for ‘Global Civility’ rather than destruction of human life.
The group also expressed “deep regret” at the Paris terror attacks, which included a massacre at Charlie Hebdo, saying they were a “violation of Islamic law”.
Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, a senior spokesman for the Forum, said “Perpetual mistakes by extremists, either by cold-blooded killers or uncivilised expressionists, cannot be the way forward for a civilised society.
“The peace-loving majority of people must become vociferous in promoting global civility and responsible debate. At this time of heightened tension and emotion, it is crucial that both sides show restraint to prevent further incidents of this nature occurring.”
Shaykh Noor Siddiqi, another Forum representative, said “The actions of the UK media in not publishing the cartoons is highly appreciated by British Muslims and we hope that this kind of self-restraint and mutual respect will ultimately lead to a harmonious society.”
Across the street on Whitehall a handful of counter demonstrators holding a Britain First banner gathered. Scotland Yard said it was not aware of any arrests during the protest.