Fears of Armistice Day confrontation as Tommy Robinson urges 'young English men' to arrive in London and peacefully oppose Islamist groups
Wednesday 8 November 2023
Fears are growing that counter protesters could clash with pro-Palestinian marchers on Armistice Day.
Organisers of Saturday’s demonstration have so far defied calls from police not to go ahead, amid anger among senior ministers, Conservative MPs and others over the decision to hold the event ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
The Met said senior officers had asked various groups behind the event to “urgently reconsider” and described the plans as “not appropriate” during a meeting on Monday.
But the coalition of groups, which includes Stop the War and the Muslim Association of Britain, insisted they would press ahead with the demonstration calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Jonathan Hall KC, the independent reviewer of terror legislation has warned of "an extreme right-wing terrorist backlash" if Saturday's demonstration goes ahead.
He said Islamists had used a previous Remembrance Day protest as a "recruitment method" and to "de-legitimise soldiers".
Tensions have now escalated after Tommy Robinson, whose X/Twitter account was reinstated yesterday by Elon Musk after he was banned from the platform in 2018, issued a rallying cry to his supporters to attend on Saturday.
Tommy Robinson has urged supporters to arrive in London and peacefully support Britain's armed forces
There are concerns that tensions on Saturday's pro-Palestinian march could boil over
Organisers of Saturday’s demonstration have so far defied calls from police not to go ahead
The anti-Islamist activist has urged "young English men" to arrive in London en-masse to peacefully show support for Britain's armed forces.
"The Armistice Day to us is as important as your mosque, your Qu'ran, and your prophet," he said. "You come and disrespect us in such a way on that date.
"The only time our government and police will do something is when they see a resistance, an uncontrollable en-masse of men. That is what's currently needed. Not for trouble or violence.
"The importance of this is not for a riot or violence. It's not to turn up drunk or aggressive. It's to turn up and show our government, police and Hamas, and everyone around the world saying Britain has fallen, that there is a resistance, that a silent majority have had enough of the abuse and liberties being taken on our sacred day.
"I think the police will make sure they go nowhere near Whitehall, nowhere near the Churchill statute, nowhere near any of our monuments or any of our cenotaphs.
"Police will be forced to because of the amount of young English and British men that are coming out.
"This is a call to every one of you. Make your way to London but be calm and respectful. No-one is saying come and fight. That's the last thing anyone wants.
"It's about respect for our armed forces. Nothing else".
A Cabinet minister has said there will be “ongoing discussions” after police gave the go-ahead for a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to take place on Armistice Day.
On Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley resisted pressure heaped on the force by politicians including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to try to block a pro-Palestinian gathering in London on Saturday.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay, who insisted the rally will be “provocative”, told Sky News: “I think there’ll be ongoing discussions on this.
“There is a legal threshold and the Commissioner is of the view that that legal threshold has not been met.
“Obviously, the Home Office and colleagues will discuss that over the course of the day.”
Alleged assault of poppy-selling veteran during anti-war rally investigated
Police are investigating an alleged assault on a veteran selling poppies at a station during a pro-Palestinian rally.
Jim Henderson, 78, told the Scottish Daily Mail he was punched as he tried to leave Waverley Station in Edinburgh before being helped by railway staff.
It came as hundreds of protesters filled the station on Saturday in a demo against the actions of the Israeli government in Gaza.
Signals veteran Jim Henderson said he was punched while selling poppies during a pro-Palestinian rally
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman called the alleged attack “repulsive”.
Mr Henderson, who told the newspaper he served in the Royal Corps of Signals, 32 Signal Regiment in Northern Ireland, claimed the assault happened during the rally while he ran a Poppyscotland stall at the station.
He told the paper: “I was getting shoved backwards, in danger of falling, and one of them stood on my foot and split my toe.
“I thought I had got to get the money out of here. So I went down, and as I bent down someone punched me in the back. And then I got another punch in my side.”