Muslim Lawyer Defends EDL Supporter?
Muhammad ‘Abd al-Haqq
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has given the Metropolitan Police Commissioner until Monday to seek a Home Office ban on the English Defence League marching through London’s East End on September 3. Lutfur Rahman has thrown the gauntlet down and told the commissioner he will go to court unless an application is made.
“I will instruct lawyers on Monday to go to the High Court and seek injunctive relief if the Met Police fail to act,” he told a Town Hall news conference this-afternoon. “We will not let the EDL or any other bunch of extremists divide our community. The EDL just wants images of our young people fighting on the streets to show that multi-cultural Britain doesn’t work – but we stand united in the East End against hatred and Racism. The authorities must act to ban the EDL.”
He is challenging Home Secretary Theresa May to use her powers to stop the EDL coming to Whitechapel on September 3 on the grounds of public safety. He was backed at the news conference in his call for a ban by community and religious leaders who have come together under the United East End alliance.
“Fear and anxiety grows every day that passes without action from the police of Home Secretary,” the mayor added. “If no action is taken, we have no option but to protect our residents and take the police and Home Secretary to court.”
Tower Hamlets council‘s legal department has written to the Acting Commissioner to demand they apply to the Home Secretary to ban the march under the Public Order Act, in the light of last week’s London riots. Legal proceedings will begin, they warn, if there is no response by Monday or if the response is not in favour of a ban.
And it is this group, the EDL, that we find a solicitor with an Arabic name defending. Is it possible that he is Muslim?
A member of a far-right group threatened to burn down mosques during a drunken rant in Halifax town centre, a court heard.
Andrew Ossitt, 40, from Newquay, came to Halifax on April 2, along with around 60 other English Defence League protesters. He was part of a group who came into town after a demonstration in Blackburn. They congregated outside the Courtyard pub, Wards End, Halifax.
Another man, Dennis Farrell, 26, of High Lees Road, Halifax, also appeared at Calderdale Magistrates’ Court. He will face trial on November 3 after denying two charges of using threatening words and racially or religiously aggravated harassment.
Scores of police went to the pub at 6pm and marched the group back to the train station.
Vanessa Schofield, prosecuting, said: “Officers’ attention was drawn to Andrew Ossitt. He was walking along, slightly behind the group. He raised both arms in the air and shouted, ‘These are our streets, Muslims off the streets’.”
Ossitt admitted using threatening words to cause harassment alarm or distress and a second charge of religiously aggravated harassment and was fined £100.
Mohammed Farooq, representing Ossitt, told the court although he joined in with chanting, he was not an instigator. He said: “At no point was it his intention to be part of any demonstration outside the pub. A few members began chanting, a few more joined in. Due to him being in drink at the time he began to chant ‘You burn the poppies, and we will burn the mosques’.
“Andrew Ossitt says at the time of making these remarks he did not feel he was going to cause anyone any alarm, harassment or distress. With hindsight he said had there been members of the Muslim community there, they would have done.”
His solicitor said Ossitt felt “aggrieved” at being prosecuted. “He has been singled out from that demonstration and used as a scapegoat here in court. He has said there should be 60 or so EDL stood next to him,” said Mr Farooq. He said Ossitt has not attended any English Defence League meetings since April.
As well as the £100 fine, chairwoman Anthea Atkinson told Ossitt to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. “Our aim is to punish you, which we believe this will do. If this offence had not been religiously aggreviated, you would have paid £30 but it has been increased to reflect the religious aggreviation,” she said.
The EDL, in their own words: