Extremists in demonstration face inquiry by police squad
Feb. 7, 2006
George Jones, Political Editor
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday February 8, 2006
The move comes after growing protests over the failure to arrest the militant demonstrators who carried placards threatening violence and suicide bombings.
Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, joined MPs in sending a strong signal to the Metropolitan Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring prosecutions against the extremists involved in protests outside the Danish embassy in London on Friday.
The Government believes that some of the protesters could be charged with incitement to murder.
The police team will be headed by a detective chief inspector in the public order crime unit and will examine everything from video recordings made by officers to photographs published in newspapers.
Senior detectives promised a “swift” inquiry and said quick decisions would be taken on whether to send files on any of the demonstrators to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to bring incitement charges.
Pictures of Omar Khayam, a Muslim protester who dressed as a suicide bomber, will be among those studied by the Scotland Yard team. Others showed demonstrators wielding placards threatening a repeat of the September 11 and July 7 attacks and calling for the beheading of those responsible for the cartoons.
Downing Street issued a forthright statement condemning as “completely unacceptable” the behaviour of the extremists, but saying it was up to the police to decide whether to prosecute.
Mr Blair’s official spokesman said the Government understood the offence caused by the cartoons but said this did not justify the violence seen over the weekend in Syria and Lebanon, including the burning of the Danish embassy. In an emergency Commons statement, Mr Clarke said the police and prosecuting authorities were carrying out “rigorous assessments” about the appropriate way to proceed in individual cases.
“If the police conclude there have been breaches of the law and decide to take any action, we would, of course, support them,” he told MPs. He joined Downing Street in expressing solidarity with the Danish government, which he said had done everything possible to handle a very difficult situation.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, urged the police and the authorities to take “appropriate action” against people who “break the law by inciting hatred or inciting people to violence or murder”. He added: “Many of those people carrying the placards were clearly inciting violence or inciting hatred.”
David Davis, the Conservative home affairs spokesman, told Mr Clarke it was essential that action was taken against demonstrators who deliberately tried to stir up violence, for the sake of good community relations. He said Friday’s demonstrations had “emphatically crossed” a line as to what was acceptable, civilised behaviour.
“Placards carrying the slogans calling for people who insult Islam to be beheaded, or massacred, or annihilated are direct incitements to violence,” he said. “Slogans like ‘Europe your 9/11 will come’ or ‘Europe you will pay, Fantastic 4 are on their way’, are, at best, indirect incitements to violence, as is dressing up as a suicide bomber.”
Ashok Kumar, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, condemned the demonstrations. “Muslim extremists are poisoning the atmosphere in this country in what was, what has been, a great multicultural society,” he said.
Officials said Mr Clarke would convey the strong view of the Commons that action should be taken.
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