The Islamist protesters who held up banners labelling soldiers returning from Iraq as killers, cowards and butchers have "brought disgrace" to Luton, a local MP said today, as it emerged they maybelong to a banned extremist organisation.
The group of men caused uproar when they picketed a homecoming parade by the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment down the streets of the Bedfordshiretown, holding up placards with slogans including: "Anglian Soldiers: Butchers of Basra" and "Anglian Soldiers: cowards, killers, extremists".
One placard also read: "British Government TerroristGovernment."
As the troops prepared to hold a similar march in Watford today, Margaret Moran, the Luton South MP, said that the protesters had been an embarrassment to her town.
Both Ms Moran and AbdulMalik, a member of Luton’s Race Advisory Forum, claimed this morning that the demonstrators may have belonged to the extremist al-Muhajiroun organisation, which was officially disbanded in Britain in2004. The group relaunched itself as two new groups that year, but both were proscribed by the Government for glorifying terrorism.
“I am absolutely disgusted with the demonstration by a smallnumber of extremists linked to al-Muhajiroun. It is not representative of Luton," the MP said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
She added that she had been left surprised that police had authorised theprotest, which caused clashes involving those who had come out to welcome the troops.
"I am a bit stunned that the police agreed to this kind of demonstration, with pre-prepared banners calling theArmy ’baby-killers’ and the like, which were designed to provoke and cause disturbance," she said.
Mr Malik, a race-relations campaigner, also said that the protesters were likely to have beenmembers of al-Muhajiroun, an indication that the virulently anti-Semitic Islamist organisation, led by the cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, still exists underground since officially disbanding.
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