London Muslim poppy burning protest left man ‘sick’
The grandson of a Second World War soldier felt “sick inside” as Muslim extremists burned replica poppies on the anniversary of Armistice Day, a court heard today.
Tony Kibble said tears of anger and rage welled in his eyes as members of Muslims Against Crusades chanted “British soldiers burn in hell” while he attempted to mark a two-minute silence.
At Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court - sitting at Woolwich Crown Court - today, two members of the Islamist group stood trial over alleged public order offences.
Mohammad Haque, 30, and Emdadur Choudhury, 26, are accused of jointly carrying out the burning of three oversized plastic poppies in a way that was likely to cause “harassment, harm or distress” to those who witnessed it.
Haque, of Mace Street, Bethnal Green, east London, and Choudhury of Hunton Street, Spitalfields, east London, both plead not guilty to one count each under section five of the Public Order Act.
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The alleged offence took place on November 11 as rival demonstrations took place at Kensington Gore.
During the day, members of the English Defence League (EDL) exchanged angry outbursts with representatives of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC).
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The two groups were separated by police lines and metal barriers.
The demos took place close to the Royal Albert Hall, the end point of a charity march at which serving members handed over books of condolences ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
Mr Kibble and his friend Paula Allen had arranged to pay their respects to service personnel gathered, and those who had fallen.
Giving evidence today, Mr Kibble told the court that as the 11th hour approached they found themselves at the site of the demonstrations.
He said: “They (The MAC) carried on shouting throughout the two minute silence.
“Half way through, I looked up to see what was going on around and I saw a ball of fire fall to the ground. Literally, my stomach turned over.”
He continued: “I felt sick inside. It is something that means so much to me and to see what I believed to be a wreath of poppies fall to the ground - it is just despicable.”
Video footage of the incident was shown in court today.
In it, a leader of the MAC can be heard to say “the two minutes have started” before leading a series of anti-British chants.
Around 20 men at the demonstration joined in with shouts of: “Burn, burn British soldiers, British soldiers burn in Hell.”
The crowd continued: “British soldiers - murderers, British soldiers - rapists, British soldiers - terrorists.”
Video footage of the incident sees Choudhury set fire to a number of plastic poppies towards the end of the two minutes, according to the prosecution. Nearby is Haque.
Their actions went “far beyond the boundaries of legitimate protest and freedom of expression,” prosecutor Simon Ray said.
Mr Kibble’s friend Paula Allen was also present during the incident.
In a statement given to police, the woman - whose nephew is serving for the British forces, as did her father, grandfather, great grandfather - said she felt “insulted, sickened and offended” by what she heard during the attempted two-minute silence.
Supporters of the two defendants and members of the EDL held counter demonstrations outside the court today, while others sat in the public gallery.