LONDON (Reuters Life!) - London police said on Tuesday they had banned a radical Muslim group from holding a protest outside the church where Britain’s Prince William will marry Kate Middleton next week.
However, talks are ongoing about allowing Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), whose members include some of Britain’s best-known Muslim extremists, to stage some form of demonstration in the capital.
Meanwhile the English Defense League (EDL), a right-wing anti-Islamist group, whose past protests have been marred by violence, has also applied to stage a demonstration should MAC get the go-ahead.
“So far we’ve had two request from groups wishing to protest and we’re currently engaging with them to decide whether we think that’s appropriate,” London Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens told Sky News.
“It’s a celebration and we want the day to be focused on that celebration.”
MAC said on its website its aim was to disrupt the April 29 wedding.
“We find that one of the biggest advocates of British imperialism, Flight Lieutenant Prince William, wishes to enjoy an extravagant wedding ceremony, ironically at the expense of the tax-payer,” the website says.
“We promise that should they refuse, then the day which the nation has been dreaming of for so long will become a nightmare.”
Last month, Emdadur Choudhury, 26, a member of MAC, was fined 50 pounds for burning a poppy on Armistice Day and shouting “British soldiers burn in hell” during rival protests by MAC and the EDL outside London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The EDL on its Facebook website page has warned protesters it would “be there in our 1,000s waiting for you to slip up.”
ATTACK “HIGHLY LIKELY”
The protest is one of a number of security issues facing police in the run-up to the royal wedding with Britain currently at its second highest threat level of “severe,” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in London, and with many dignitaries and royals from Britain and abroad attending, the event is considered to be an obvious target.
About 5,000 officers will be on duty and there will be covert operations taking place.
Search teams and sniffer dogs have already been scouring drains, bins, peering inside lamp posts and even hunting inside traffic lights for any hidden bombs or weapons on the short route the couple will take between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
The couple will travel in separate cars to the abbey, but return along the procession route together in an open-topped horse-drawn carriage, waving to the crowds, and then appear on the balcony of the palace with the rest of the royals.
“Officers are trained to be vigilant and check areas where items may have been hidden,” said Inspector Ian Fairman who is in charge of the search teams.
“Officers will be checking vulnerable areas all along the route of the procession.”
There is also concern that anarchists will target the event after riots last month. In December, a car carrying William’s father Prince Charles and his wife Camilla was attacked during student protests in the British capital.
Police confirmed that 60 people, who have been charged with committing public order offences, were banned from central London on the day as part of their bail conditions.
editing by Paul Casciato