A march is planned this Sunday to protest over the police raid on a house in Forest Gate, east London. The protest, set to begin at 2.30pm outside Forest Gate police station, on Romford Road, was announced at a packed 150-strong meeting hosted by Respect on Tuesday of this week.
The meeting, attended by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, had been organised some time earlier, but the raid, which has sparked anger in the area due to the heavy handed tactics used by police, gave it an urgent tone.
Residents of many races and religions attended the meeting, reflecting the diversity of the area. Respect national secretary John Rees told the audience, 'There is no simple police solution to this problem, and there is no simple policy solution. It comes from the mighty engine of the Bush war machine, which Blair has chosen to support.
'And what Bush has done in the US with the homeland security bill, Blair has copied here with the anti-terrorism bill. It seems to many that the so called war on terror is a war without limits and a war without end.
'The demonstration has to be a demonstration of all those who care about their freedom and the freedom of others. We're not begging, nor are we lashing out. We are a serious, articulate community who know what the problem is. We are going to raise a single voice to defend ourselves.'
Moazzam Begg gave a moving speech in which he spoke of the crimes being committed by US and British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and of the horror of detention in Guantanamo Bay. 'If you ask people in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib if this is a war against Islam they would tell you they think it is.
'They may be wrong – it may be about oil or power – but that's the perception.'
He spoke about Blair's anti-terror laws which have divided communities and added that he saw a parallel with the time he was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. 'We fought back against skinheads, and I noticed that many of those who fought alongside us were Irish.' He added that there was a parallel between the attacks on Irish people at a time when they were demonised as terrorists and the attacks on Muslims today.
Sunday 11 June, 2.30pm
Forest Gate police station, 350-360 Romford Road, London E7