Britain in solidarity with France – but far right will try to profit
ANTI-MUSLIM violence and protests are set to snowball across Britain and Europe following Tuesday’s murderous terrorist attack on satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, campaigners warned yesterday.
British-based anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate warned that the killings could be exploited by far-right and Islamaphobic organisations.
Hope Not Hate director Nick Lowles said: “Anti-Muslim protests are likely to gather pace across Europe, community relations will be tested to their limits and violent attacks could well increase.
“Under the guise of free speech, it’s likely that the haters will emerge — from both sides — seeking to drag us all down into the quagmire of their hatred and a world which they would happily turn to ash.
“Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The attack, which killed eight journalists, a maintainance worker, a visitor and two police officers, has sparked a manhunt in France for those believed responsible and has also prompted a security clampdown in Britain, including increased vigilance on Eurostar services, ports and airports.
The murders were allegedly carried out by Islamic extremists, but widespread condemnation has been expressed by Islamic organisations.
A two minute silence was marked in Parliament’s Westminster Hall yesterday, observed by hundreds of MPs, peers, parliamentary staff and lobby journalists.
Speaker John Bercow led the vigil as Big Ben bells tolled 12 noon and told attendees: “Colleagues, thank you for supporting the people of France.”
Politicians from all sides united to hold pens in the air, with many holding banners reading “Je suis Charlie” — I am Charlie.
Journalists across Britain also staged a minute’s silence at 11am in memory of the editorial staff killed in France, where a day of mourning was declared.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The NUJ, together with journalists and their unions around the world, has condemned this attack as an attempt to gag press freedom and attack the entire profession.”
British police did the same to mark the deaths of officers who attended the grisly scene, pausing for a minute’s silence “in solidarity and sympathy.”
The request for the show of respect came from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and the Police Federation.
Acpo vice-president and Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said: “All members of the British police forces are shocked at the savagery of this attack.
“We stand in solidarity and express our great sympathy for their families and friends.”
Police and security forces in France are scouring the country for brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi in connection with the murders.
Meanwhile the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which brings together dozens of journalists’ unions with a collective membership of 600,000, reported earlier this year that 118 journalists were murdered in 2014.
Thirty-five died in the Asia-Pacific region, 31 in the Middle East, 26 in the Americas, 17 in Africa and nine in Europe.