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May 06, 2002
Police Islamophobic attitude at the pro-Israeli rally condemned
A Muslim journalist, who was interviewing Jewish and Christian demonstrators, was forced to stop the interviews and made to join a Muslim demonstration on Monday. Expressing “serious concern” at the “heavy handedness of the police towards Muslim journalists who was doing his duty”, a spokesperson of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the police acted Islamophobically as the journalist was forced to leave his work “just because he was a Muslim journalist”. Other Muslims were beaten up under the watchful eyes of the police, who neither came to their rescue nor apprehended the perpetrators.
The incident happened outside St Martins and the Fields Church where Jewish and Christian counter demonstration against the pro-Israeli rally were standing. The Muslim News journalist was interviewing Jewish demonstrators who gave him a leaflet on the forthcoming pro-Palestinian demonstration in two weeks’ time when Jewish security personnel, who had been following him for some time, “sprung on me and asked why I had the leaflet advertising against Israel”. They called the police who, without inquiring who he was or what he had in his hand, accused The Muslim News journalist of “trying to distribute inflammatory material and provoke an incident”. The police officer refused to listen to the journalist and told him to join the anti-Israeli Muslim demonstration. The police officer told him, “We don’t care if you are a journalist. You are a Muslim and must go to the Muslim demonstration.” He escorted the journalist and his mother, who was wearing a hijab, to the Muslim demonstra!
tion and asked two police officers to look after him so that he did not leave the enclosed area.
Earlier, The Muslim News journalist was refused entry into Trafalgar Square to cover the speeches by the Jewish security personnel, even though he showed them his accreditations. “He called me a ‘Muslim scum’ and to told me ‘to get out of the area’.”
Muhammed Zuraiki of Palestinian origin and Hasan Uhra of Iraqi origin were approaching the pro-Israeli demonstration at Trafalgar Square when “eight big, big guys set upon us”, related Hasan. “Do you wanna fight”, the gang asked them. “We tried to ignore them and walked along, but they continued to taunt us. We were set upon. Muhammed was hit on his lips and I was hit on the side of my head by my flagpole,” said Hasan. He claimed the police “just stood by and did nothing”.
Two Muslim women , donning the hijab, Razia and Zaynab, had gone to the rally early and were just near the ‘lion’s end’ of Trafalgar square “when we found we were surrounded by 12 police officers,” said Razia. They asked them to move away and join the Muslim area of the demonstration. “We told them we had come to listen to the speeches but they insisted we had to move,” related Zaynab. However, they managed to return and joined the Jewish crowd. The police officers came and told them to leave as “we have been told you should leave”. Razia said: “The Jewish people around us, to whom we were talking, told the police that we were not doing anything wrong and that they should allow us to stay. But the police refused and we had to leave.”
The spokesperson the MCB said they were going to take up the matter with the Metropolitan police in their next meeting which will be held in two weeks’ time.
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