In the last few day's we have all heard about Anjem Choudary's planned protest march in Wootton Bassett. Is this really the best way for "the religion of peace" to get it's point across about British intervention in Afghanistan? It could be argued that because of the sensitive nature of the town that the message will get greater media coverage. As an ex-serviceman and I find this manipulation of public sentiment deeply offensive.
Anjem Choudary's argument is a political one, whereas Wootton Bassett is not a place of politics, it is a place where we honour our returning dead. Choudary is intent on using this place of respect as a political vehicle. I believe that Choudary has the right to say anything he likes as long as it is within the law of this land. I also believe he has the right to protest, but I do not think he should be allowed to protest in a place where we show respect to our fallen. It is a distasteful and ill-thought plan which will only incite hatred.
Choudary has written a open letter to families of British soldiers in Afghanistan in an attempt to explain his plan to protest on the streets of Wootton Bassett. What stood out to me from his letter was the opening line: "May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon those who follow the guidance." Wouldn't a better message be "peace and goodwill to all men"? In this country, Christians are brought up to respect the beliefs of others (our children are even taught about other religions in school), but it seems increasingly obvious that some of those others do not respect our beliefs.
Choudary should have his march, but in a political area such as Westminster, not in Wootton Bassett. I hope he reconsiders, because only a truly stupid man would be unaware that the current plan would only damage interfaith goodwill. If he goes ahead with the Wootton Bassett march - then he must be doing so with the intention of making a political statement - no matter what social damage results.
To Anjem Choudary I say this: Peace and goodwill to you and all men. Please reconsider.