Leading Jewish organisations have called on members of the community not to attend a demonstration against the building of a new mosque in west London. The demonstration is intended to highlight the growing influence of Islam in Europe.
The Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust issued strongly-worded statements after the organisers, Stop the Islamisation of Europe, urged Jews to bring Israeli flags to the demonstration and march at Harrow Mosque on December 13.
The SIOE website states: “If you do not attend this demonstration then you are prepared to see Israel wiped off the map.
“Vile antisemitism is being preached in mosques across the world and almost certainly the one in your neighbourhood.”
But the CST called on the Jewish community not to be taken in by such crude Islamophobia.
This is as provocative as flying planes into skyscrapers
It singled out an Islamophobic image of a mosque on the SIOE website. The minarets of the mosque are represented as spears dripping with blood and the whole image is superimposed by a skull wearing a helmet, with blood dripping from its mouth.
“A demonstration against Harrow Mosque under the banner ‘Stop the Islamisation of Europe’, is as stupid and offensive as a demonstration against Harrow Synagogue, under the banner ‘Stop the Zionisation of Europe’,” the CST said in its blog.
The Board of Deputies identified a worrying trend of anti-Islamic hatred in Britain and Europe.
“The Jewish community has consistently rejected the cynical attempts of these far-right groups to draw us into campaigns of hate against the peaceful majority of British Muslims,” said a spokesman.
“The desecration of Muslim graves in Manchester, the fact that the recent referendum on minarets in Switzerland has been welcomed by the far right and the planned protests outside a mosque in Harrow are all warnings we must heed.”
Local MP Tony McNulty has asked Home Secretary Alan Johnson to ban the SIOE protest. “I’d be happy for Jews to come to demonstrate against Stop the Islamisation of Europe.”
He said a previous demonstration on the anniversary of 9/11 had brought ethnic and religious communities in Harrow together in opposition to SIOE. Stephen Gash, joint founder of the anti-Islamic organisation said he was angry at the response to his call for Jews to join his demonstration.
“We asked Jews to come along to protest about how they are treated in Muslim countries and how Israel is misrepresented in the media. Certainly, the western media are obsessed with Israel at the expense of Muslim atrocities perpetrated against non-Muslims in Islamic countries.”
Asked whether his actions could be seen as provocative, he added: “It is not as provocative as flying planes into skyscrapers or blowing up buses. Muslims have got away with it very lightly if all that happens is some legal demonstrations outside mosques.”
Mr Gash said reports that fast food outlets were serving halal meat were deeply worrying. He said: “If we started to slip pork into their chowder, people would be up in arms, so why should people have halal meat foisted on them?”
A spokeswoman for British Muslims for Secular Democracy, which is organising a counter-demonstration, said: “I hope that people of all different faiths and none will join us in opposing SIOE. Tomorrow it could be a Hindu temple or a Jewish synagogue.”