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Heavy police presence for Harrow Central Mosque protest
THOUSANDS are expected to descend on Harrow for a Bank Holiday protest against the borough's new mosque.
Demonstrators recruited through the internet are taking to the streets outside Harrow Central Mosque, saying they oppose plans for a Sharia Law court in the new building.
The protest, throughout the day on Saturday, August 29, has been advertised on right-wing websites and organisers are expecting at least a couple of thousand to join in.
There are fears the protest could turn nasty, after a similar demonstration in Birmingham last weekend descended into a pitched battle between police, protesters, and Islamic groups.
However, Bill Baker, one of the organisers of the protest, said ties had been cut with groups English Defence League and Casual United, who he blamed for the trouble in Birmingham.
He told the Harrow Times marshalls would be escorting protesters from Harrow and Wealdstone station to the mosque, in Station Road, and would be on the look-out for trouble-makers.
He said: “We all live under one set of rules and that's what we expect from Muslims as well.
“Why can't they just decide whether they live in this country under our laws or move to a country that uses Sharia law?”
He added: “I am loyal to my country and I don't believe racist extremism of any kind should hijack this issue.”
Protesters have been recruited through a vast array of internet sites and Facebook group, with messages like: “The planned Islam centre is not only a mosque but a five-storey building containing education centre for new converts to Islam and also sharia law courtrooms. This must be stopped so please come along to our passive protest and bring your friends with you. Don’t forget to bring some banners and your St George’s cross flags.”
Harrow police found out about the protest via the internet, and have been holding high-level meetings with mosque leaders, senior police chiefs, and Harrow Council.
They are planning to be out in force during the protest to avoid a repeat of the ugly scenes in Birmingham.
In a statement put out ahead of the demonstration, the police said: “We recognise people's right to protest and we will ensure that there are sufficient police resources deployed on Harrow borough to facilitate any legitimate protest.”
Councillor Susan Hall, deputy leader of the council, said: "One of our main priorities is to build stronger communities and those who wish to use Harrow as a stage to try and drive a wedge into that community and ferment division - whether they are religious extremists or political fanatics - do not represent what Harrow is about.
"Nonetheless, we respect the right to demonstrate and we are confident our police partners will ensure this event, if it takes place, will go ahead without causing fear or intimidation to any of our residents."