Demo aimed to counter extremist "March for Sharia"LONDON, Saturday 31 October 2009
British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD) led a protest in Piccadilly Circus today against the extremist group Islam4UK, headed by former Al-Muhajiroun UK leader Anjem Choudary. Islam4UK claimed it would be marching in London demanding the imposition of Sharia Law and the dismantling of Britain's democratic institutions and "man-made law". Chanting slogans like "We're Muslims, We're British, We're proud", "We love democracy" and "Freedom! Democracy!", the lively group turned out to stand up and say "no!" the small fringe band of fundamentalist provocateurs led by hate-preacher Choudary.
BMSD believes it is important to defend liberal democracy and to demonstrate that the vast majority of Britain's Muslim community cherish the freedoms our democracy affords people of all faiths and none.
With placards bearing slogans like...
"With satire and humour, we are showing our fellow citizens that the Muslim community is very diverse in its views and certainly not behind this small minority of extremist fools,” said BMSD spokesperson, Dr Shaaz Mahboob.
"But there is also a serious message, he added. "Our protest against Islam4UK is based on our belief in, and commitment to, those liberal values that define the British state." "This includes legal and constitutional equality for all, equal rights for women and minorities, and religious freedom, including the right to be free of faith," he said. Dr Mahboob urged all democrats - Muslim and non-Muslim - to support the fight against extremism.
"British Muslims for Secular Democracy encourages all people with a commitment to pluralism and democracy to get involved. We form part of a broad-based coalition of groups and individuals, encompassing all faiths and none, and all levels of religious practice and none. We believe it is important for all citizens to present a united front against extremism, and to reject any attempts to sow discord within our ranks," he said.
Writing in The Guardian last week, Dr Mahboob said there was an urgent need for the Muslim community to stand up for the liberal values that guarantee religious freedom in this country and to voice their opposition to extremist groups like Islam4UK . (Comment is Free, 23rd October 2009)
British Muslims for Secular Democracy has also made a satirical video making it clear that the offensive, extremist demands of groups like Islam4UK are only on the fringe. To find out more about this ongoing campaign, please visit our campaign website: www.seculardemocracy.org.
Dr Mahboob concluded: "We would like to thank all individuals and groups who turned out today to proclaim the virtues of liberal democracy, and who set aside their differences and stood shoulder to shoulder against the bigots who dream of taking away our freedom and liberty. We are particularly delighted to see that some who have previously held hard-line views such as Inayat Bunglawala, are prepared to stand together with BMSD in a show of solidarity against Anjem Choudary."
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For more informations about British Muslims for Secular Democracy, visit the BMSD website.