LONDON (Reuters) - A group of British Islamists called off a protest planned for outside the London Olympic Park on Friday and organizers said police had told them not to go ahead.
The group, led by some of Britain’s most prominent Islamist figures, had intended to gather outside the gates to the park ahead of the opening ceremony to denounce what they called the evil of the Games.
Police said that as it was a standing protest, not a march, the group was not required to obtain permission, but organizer Mizanur Rahman said police had made it clear to him that the protest should not go ahead.
“We would have been immediately arrested otherwise,” said Rahman, who served a four-year jail term for encouraging followers to kill British and American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq during a demonstration in London in 2006.
“There’s no way for Muslims to voice any of their concerns,” said Rahman, whose Website, evilolympics.com, has the tagline “While the world plays, Muslims are being killed around the globe”.
He vowed there would be more efforts to protest during the course of the Games.
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 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