More than 1,000 British Muslims gathered in Central London to protest against what they described as "insulting descriptions" of the prophet Mohammed by controversial french newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Sunday. The large crowd collected near the Whitehall government district in the capital of United Kingdom, close to the office of prime minister David Cameron. Here, the British Muslims expressed their anger over the allegedly blasphemous cartoons published by the french newspaper, carrying placards with phrases such as: "Stand up for the prophet".
The march comes just weeks after 17 people were killed over three days in France. The violence began when two gunmen entered the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo and open fired, claiming to take revenge for publications of the satirical images of the Muhammad, who Muslims consider as the last prophet and the seal of their #Religion.
The protesters condemned the attack on the French media outlet, saying that anyone who kills to avenge is violating Islamic law. Still, they maintained that the magazine should refrain from publishing blasphemous content about the prophet. Religious leaders from the community delivered speeches before the crowd prayed together. Before dispersing, the protesters handed in an online petition to Cameron's office. It was signed by more than 100,000 Muslims from across the country.
The petition was organized by the Muslim Action Forum. It denounced those who were responsible for producing the blasphemous cartoons, describing them as against the "norms of civilized society". The event organisers also distributed a leaflet talking about how freedom of speech was "regularly utilised to insult personalities that others consider sacred".
The protest concluded peacefully, though police presence was high amid fears of clashes with counter-demonstrations held by far-right politicians and their supporters. Paul Golding and Britain First members gathered and chanted slogans at the Muslim protesters, standing behind flags of their nationalist party.
The Muslim demonstration came just days after Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, described the radicalization of young British Muslims as "alarming". The Prince of Wales expressed concern about how British values were not being inculcated into many Muslims despite the fact that they have been born and raised in Britain.