George Galloway was attacked last night by a group of militants who have been angered by his invasion of Bethnal Green and Bow:
Mr Galloway was electioneering on the Osier council estate in Bethnal Green last night when a gang of 30 Muslim fundamentalists, who claim voting is un-Islamic, surrounded him and his supporters.
The men said they were angry at Mr Galloway’s attempt to woo Muslim voters. They said they were “setting up the gallows” for him and warned any Muslim who voted for his anti-war Respect party that they faced a “sentence of death”.
After a fight broke out between the two groups, police were called and Mr Galloway was forced to hide in his car in an alley until the violence calmed down. Two men were later arrested.
One resident said: “I heard shouting and looked out into the street to see a large group of Asian men. Many of them were fighting.
“There were punches and kicks thrown, then a large number of police arrived and broke up the riot.”
Speaking to the Standard minutes after the attack, Mr Galloway said it was clear the men were worried that he could become MP for an area with a large Muslim population.
“I was meeting people who live in the flats. Hizb-ut-Tahrir suddenly filled the room and blocked the door. I tried speaking calmly. They then said I was parading as a false prophet and served a sentence of death on me. They were claiming I was representing myself as a false deity and for this apostasy I would be sentenced to the gallows,” he said.
“They said they were setting up the gallows for me. Thank God my daughter was not with me. She was in the car outside. Otherwise there would have been nobody to call the police. The police saved my life.”
Clearly such violence cannot be condoned but I think we really need to examine the root causes – the anger and desperation that drives people to take such measures.
To simply condemn these militants would be to line-up with George W Bush’s so-called ‘war on terror’, we need to have a more nuanced understanding.
Update: Perhaps George Galloway will be thinking of changing his campaign photo after last night’s events:
A few updates to this sorry tale:
Via PA: Mr Galloway’s spokesman Ron McKay said: “(George) was held hostage and threatened with death. Can you imagine what that was like ?”
…..Mr McKay said he believed the gang was linked to the disbanded al-Muhajiroun group and those thought responsible for storming a Muslim Council of Britain press conference earlier yesterday.
Via the BBC: A Respect spokesman said: “He was very severely threatened, although he wasn’t hurt.
“They came in blocked the door behind them and told George he had a fatwa against him and that he would be hanged.”