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Massive Muslim rally at Hyde Park planned

The demonstration, expected one of the biggest Muslim rally in Britain, is expected to call for calm and urge the media to apologise.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 20:16 IST

Thousands of Muslims are expected to attend a rally at Hyde Park in London at the weekend, sponsored by Muslim newspapers and broadcasters, to protest at both the publication of cartoons defiling the image of the Prophet Mohamed and the response of Islamic extremists.

The demonstration, expected one of the biggest Muslim rally in Britain is expected to call for calm and urge the media to apologise for the offence they have caused.

Ihtisham Hibatullah of the Muslim Association of Britain, said, "Last weekend was very damaging for the Muslim community. We are sometimes held hostage by extremists on both sides."

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said, "British Muslims have been deeply hurt both by the provocative actions of the newspapers that printed these caricatures, but also by the disgraceful actions of a tiny group of extremists."

He said the rally was to protest against the "rising wave of xenophobia towards Muslims across Europe". He added, "The rally will aim to help British Muslims express their feelings peacefully and will call upon the newspapers concerned to apologise for the enormous offence and distress caused."

Prime Minister Blair has told MPs that political correctness should not deter the police from arresting Muslim extremists who break the law. "There is a real issue about how the sensible moderate Muslim leaders go into their community and confront this type of extremism. But it is very important for our overall good relations in this country that people understand there is no political correctness that should prevent the police from taking whatever action they think is necessary."

Mohamed Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque, said, "The hallmark of any civilised society is not just that it allows freedom of speech, but that it accepts this freedom also has limits."

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 20:16 IST