Muslim organisations have condemned a planned demonstration by extremists who are calling for sharia law in Britain. Parts of the media have also come under fire for implying that the extremists are representative of British Muslims generally.
The demonstration, involving a march from Parliament to Trafalgar Square on 31 October, is organised by the fringe group Islam4UK, who support “the full implementation of sharia law in the UK” and say that they "have had enough of freedom".
However, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body for Muslim organisations, said that they deplored the march and expressed their firm support for “the value of free speech in Britain”.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Britain told the Daily Telegraph that “99.999 per cent of Muslims despise these people. This only serves to fuel racial tensions.”
The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) accused the march's leader Anjem Choudary of giving “anti-Muslim groups the propaganda coup to demonise Muslims”.
Parts of the media have been criticised for publicising the march and thereby increasing the risk of violence between marchers and counter-demonstrators.
Criticism has focused on the Daily Express, which ran a front page headline declaring “Now Muslims demand full sharia law”, implying that this was a mainstream Muslim opinion.
“It is very well known that these extremist groups are a handful of people and do not represent the views of the mainstream Muslim public” said the MCB's General Secretary, Muhammad Abdul Bari.
He criticised “certain sections of the media” for giving them “disproportionate attention”.
“This is very irresponsible as it is bound to create further tension; it risks fuelling Islamophobia which has resulted in increased attacks on British Muslims and their institutions and properties” he added.
While parts of the media have reported that “thousands” of people may attend the demonstration, this seems to be based on Islam4UK's own predictions rather than any more objective estimate.