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London: Muslim protests outside the French Embassy in Knightsbridge today. Permitted by the Metropolitan police despite the Covid 19 restrictions placed on the rest of us.
My friend Cliff Dixon is in London today with a few friends observing (with alarm and dismay) and challenging the Muslim demonstration outside the French Embassy in Knightsbridge. For family reasons I could not be there myself. He took these photographs and reports thus.
Around 200 Muslims gathered after 1pm, breaking the law by praying in a Royal Park. Police refused to move them to a legal area
Flags of Jaamat el Islami flying outside the French embassy
The protesters were breaking the law by praying in a Royal Park. The Imam called for limits to Free Speech.
Police Gold Commander refusing to enforce the law, and said he does not see a problem. He told Cliff (below, taken by a friend) that if he was that worried he should speak to the protesters himself! Then threatened to arrest Cliff for not having his mask on! Face coverings are only required inside at the moment. Few people wear them while out in the fresh air.
Time and time again Cliff, sometimes accompanied by me at the annual al-Quds march, has remonstrated with the Gold Commander as to why he is not ordering the enforcement of the law. Always the same answer, either orders from above (which the Home Office always deny) or they see no ships.
The protest got rowdy now, fires were lit and protesters refused to move on. Cliff tells me it wasn't the French flag burnt below but a placard; he couldn't see what it said. Update, it was an image of President Macron
The protest took to the road and flares were set off
Note the Palestinian flag; I'm not sure whether the yellow and green flag to the left is Hezbullah or not.
The protestors have blocked the highway at Knightsbridge. The most recent message I had from Cliff, about 10 minutes ago was that the police have arrested a young person for throwing a flare. The reaction of the crowd was a lot of jostling and shouting "kill them" at the police.
Cliff left the scene but LBC reports that the police broke up the demonstration about 20 minutes ago (15.15 GMT).
"Police have broken up an "unlawful" demonstration outside the French embassy in London after a large group gathered there to protest in the wake of the attack in Nice"
Which makes it look as if the demonstration was against the jihadists who murdered three Christians in the cathedral. It was quite definitely a protest about the cartoons and the French refusal to curtail freedom of speech and expression, even if it gives offence. More from LBC here
The Metroplitan Police finally decided that enough was enough.
Officers have attended a demonstration outside the embassy in #Westminster. The group failed to produce a sufficient risk assessment to the local authority and so, their protest has been determined unlawful in line with the Covid regulations.
Those participating in the protest are currently being advised to disperse. Officers have been engaging with crowds and informing them of this development. Where necessary enforcement action will be considered and taken.
So far, the majority of crowds have dispersed as a result of engagement and action by officers. Our policing plan continues.