UK Islamist group cancels march in war dead town
An Islamist group has scrapped plans to march through a town where British troops killed in Afghanistan are honoured after a public outcry and criticism from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Reuters reported.
In a message posted on its Website late on Sunday, the group, Islam4UK, said it had successfully highlighted "the plight of Muslims in Afghanistan" and a march was no longer needed.
"No more could be achieved even if a procession were to take place," the group's spokesman Anjem Choudary said in a statement. "This does not mean that we will remain silent on the atrocities being committed in Afghanistan under the guise of fighting for freedom and democracy."
Soldiers, politicians and residents of Wootton Bassett, southwest England, had condemned the planned march.
Brown said last week that any attempt to distress the families of dead soldiers would be "abhorrent and offensive".
Mourners regularly line the streets of the small market town to pay their respects when the coffins of troops pass through from a nearby airforce base which receives the bodies of British soldiers flown back from Afghanistan.
Islam4UK had said it wanted to hold a procession to highlight the deaths of "innocent Muslim men, women and children" who had been killed in the conflict.
The group seeks the introduction of sharia law in Britain and has links to Islamist militant leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has been banned from entering Britain.
The News of the World reported on Sunday that Home Secretary Alan Johnson would try to ban the group this week. His department did not confirm the report.
Member of parliament James Gray, whose constituency includes Wootton Bassett, said talk of holding the march was no more than a "media stunt".
"The whole announcement was to get media coverage," he told the BBC. "He (Choudary) admitted that himself and he achieved it, he received lots of coverage."