Radical Muslims plan opening ceremony protest outside park
LONDON (Reuters) - A group of British Islamists said they had received permission to stage a protest on Friday outside the London Olympic Park to denounce what they called the evil of the Games.
The group, led by some of Britain's most prominent Islamist figures, said they would gather outside the gates to the park in Stratford before the opening ceremony to condemn Britain and other countries they accuse of persecuting Muslims.
They aim to attract the attention of 60,000 spectators due to attend the ceremony in the main Olympic stadium that officially opens the Games at 9 p.m.
The group has set up a website, evilolympics.com, which has the tagline "While the world plays, Muslims are being killed around the globe".
"It will be one of the biggest demonstrations that the Muslim community has put on in the UK," said organizer Mizanur Rahman said, estimating that "easily hundreds" would attend.
Rahman served a four-year jail term for encouraging followers to kill British and American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq during a protest in 2006.
Another organizer is Anjem Choudary, who has led numerous similar protests and threatened to disrupt last year's royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton until police banned the planned demonstration.
East London, where the Olympic Park is located, is home to a large Muslim community housed in some of the capital's poorest neighborhoods. It is also home to a number of British Muslims convicted of involvement in plots since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Rahman said they had been given permission by police to stage Friday's protest and added it would not be their last during the Games.
"Appropriate policing plans are in place," a spokeswoman for the London force said.
Rahman said the decision of judo chiefs not to allow a Saudi athlete to compete wearing an Islamic headscarf showed why Muslims should boycott the Olympics, which this year coincides with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
"I would hope that this would be a sign they should not be in the Games," said Rahman. (Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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