“The opportunity of a lifetime” was how organisers described a tour by the Palestine under-19s football team culminating in a match against Blackburn Rovers’ youth team on 8 September.
It is an opportunity which will be denied them after the British government refused to grant the players their visas. This decision was reportedly taken at the highest level.
The tour, which included games with Chester City and Tranmere Rovers’ youth teams, was organised by Chester and Palestine Exchanges (Cape) and the University of Chester with the support of the Palestine and English Football Associations.
Next month England will welcome Israel to Wembley in a Euro 2008 qualifying game.
Rod Cox, a director of Cape, slated the government’s decision. He said, “It is hard not to see it as part of the continuing siege of Gaza – it is incredible that the government should seek to ban an entire national squad in this way.
“It is especially difficult to understand when the Israeli team will play in England on 8 September.
Cape is asking for protests to be directed to the foreign office.
Visit Cape’s website at » www.palestinefootball.myzen.co.uk/page18.html
Islamophobic attacks in Britain are on the rise, with Muslim Weekly reporting a “sharp increase in attacks following the failed car bombings in June”.
In Scotland, attacks have risen significantly in Strathclyde,
following the attack at Glasgow airport. There were 258 reported attacks in July compared to 201 in June.
In Manchester the former imam of a mosque was stabbed in June, and in Bradford a suspicious fire broke out at a mosque earlier this month.
A London imam was attacked at Central Mosque in Regent’s Park on 10 August.
He lost a lot of blood and had to have emergency surgery, after the attacker repeatedly punched him in the face and poked fingers in his eyes.