New Delhi: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak strongly condemned the violent clashes involving far-right and extremist groups on Sunday. Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty participated in Remembrance Sunday events at the Cenotaph War Memorial near Downing Street in London, alongside King Charles III.
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 honours the contribution of military and civilian servicemen and women in World Wars I and II and other conflicts,
It 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.
“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”.
Met Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said, “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.”
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.