A demonstration of Muslim hardliners calling for sharia law to be imposed in Britain was cancelled in London over the weekend amid planned counter-protests by democratic Muslims.
Anjem Choudary, leader of the radical Islamic group Al Muhajiroun, said that organisers of the Islam4UK demo had cancelled the march from the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square on 31 October 2009 because of security concerns.
The Islamic Society of Britain, which was planning to join other organisations in staging a "dignified, non-violent" counter-demonstration, hailed the cancellation as a "great success".
A spokesperson said: "Pressure from all sections of the community, including Muslims, has resulted in the Muhajiroun and the hot-heads rethinking their position. They realised very few people would turn up to support them and they would attract only very negative publicity. Old-fashioned pressure has worked."
Another group, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, was also planning a peaceful counter-witness to the sharia march.
"Our objection to Islam4UK is based on our belief in, and commitment to, those liberal values that define the British state," said BMSD spokesperson, Dr Shaaz Mahboob.
"This includes legal and constitutional equality for all, equal rights for women and minorities, and religious freedom, including the right to be free of faith," he added.
Dr Mahboob had urged all democrats - Muslim and non-Muslim - to support the counter demonstration.
"We believe it is important for all citizens to present a united front against extremism, and to reject any attempts to sow discord within our ranks," he said.
Dr Mahboob had outlined his position in an article for the Guardian's Comment is Free on 23 October 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/oct/23/islam4uk-marc...