Published By: Sheen Kachroo
Last Updated: November 12, 2023, 20:57 IST
London, United Kingdom (UK)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned violent clashes involving far-right and extremist groups as he and his wife Akshata Murty joined King Charles III for Remembrance Sunday events at the Cenotaph war memorial near Downing Street here.
Members of the royal family and politicians laid wreaths as Big Ben chimed at 1100 GMT to signal the start of a two-minute national silence.
The service in London, which honours the contribution of military and civilian servicemen and women in World Wars I and II and other conflicts, comes a day after the Metropolitan Police made 126 arrests as counter-protesters clashed with officers in central London on Saturday.
Around 300,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through the streets during largely peaceful protests against the Israel-Gaza conflict, with police later issuing images of suspects wanted for extremist actions and displaying racially offensive banners.
“I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen from the EDL [English Defence League] and associated groups and Hamas sympathisers attending the National March for Palestine.
The despicable actions of a minority of people undermine those who have chosen to express their views peacefully, said Sunak in a statement on Saturday. “Remembrance weekend is a time for us to come together as a nation and remember those who fought and died for our freedoms. What we have seen today does not defend the honour of our Armed Forces, but utterly disrespects them. That is true for EDL thugs attacking police officers and trespassing on the Cenotaph, and it is true for those singing antisemitic chants and brandishing pro-Hamas signs and clothing on today’s protest, he said.
The Met Police described the extreme violence from the right-wing protestors towards officers on duty as extraordinary and deeply concerning. “Abuse was directed at officers protecting the Cenotaph, including chants of you’re not English any more’.
This group were largely football hooligans from across the UK and spent most of the day attacking or threatening officers who were seeking to prevent them being able to confront the main march, said Met Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist.
He said nine officers were injured during the day, even requiring hospital treatment with a fractured elbow and a suspected dislocated hip. “While the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) march did not see the sort of physical violence carried out by the right-wing, we know that for London’s Jewish communities whose fears and concerns we absolutely recognise, the impact of hate crime and in particular antisemitic offences is just as significant we once again saw breakaway groups behaving in an intimidating manner, he said.
The Opposition, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, blamed UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman for the clashes in the wake of her controversial Op-Ed earlier in the week that had accused the Met Police of playing favourites during the hate marches. “There can be no doubt that the scenes we witnessed yesterday involving the far right were a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words and behaviour. If she had any honour she would resign and if not, Rishi Sunak should sack her. If he doesn’t, he’s either too weak to do so or he agrees with her, writes Khan in Sunday Mirror’.
Instead of working with police in the run-up to the weekend, Suella Braverman chose to attack them and inflame tensions. No other Home Secretary would have done that today’s Armistice events are the reason why, Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper posted on X. The words of the Home Secretary this week made it harder for the police today. A Home Secretary who doesn’t take seriously the security of our streets is only allowed to remain in a government that has lost all sense of governing. Britain deserves better, she added.
Sunak remains under pressure from all sections of the political spectrum to sack Braverman after it emerged that the final version of her controversial ‘Times’ article had not been cleared by him and may be in breach of the ministerial code.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)