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Anti-Khan Protest to Take Place in Newham During Palestine March

Anti-ULEZ campaigners could be joined by far-right football hooligans as they descend on City Hall in Newham this Saturday for a protest against London mayor Sadiq Khan. This is the same day there is a national pro-Palestine march in central London, expected to be attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

Once again, this comes after inflammatory language from leading Conservative politicians. In November last year, thousands of far-right hooligans took to the streets to oppose a national pro-Palestine march, with hundreds breaking through police lines hoping to attack the march. We could see scenes reminiscent of these on Saturday.

A graphic advertising the anti-Khan protest has been shared over ten thousand times on Facebook and been shared in several large far-right aligned groups such as ‘Football Hooligans on Tour’, ‘Hotels Housing Illegals’ and ‘Protect our borders stop migrants crossing channel’.

Some protest attendees claim it is primarily about the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), where owners of some polluting vehicles have to pay to drive in London. Although originally announced by former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the scheme has become synonymous with Khan’s mayoralty. ULEZ has been a focus of increasingly militant protests since the scheme was introduced in 2020 - and particularly since the ULEZ’s expansion to cover all London boroughs last year.

The Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras used to enforce the scheme - which are also routinely accessed by the Metropolitan Police for policing purposes - have been targeted in a concerted campaign of vandalism. In December, two men were arrested by counter-terrorism police after an improvised explosive device was used to destroy a ULEZ camera in Sidcup, South London.

However, both Khan and pro-Palestine protesters have come under renewed Islamophobic attacks in recent weeks from leading Conservative party figures. The protest in November last year, in which thousands of far-right hooligans took to the streets, followed incendiary language by leading Conservative politicians.

Ahead of the London mayoral elections in May, Conservatives have ramped up their attacks on Khan, blaming him for the extremism, anti-Semitism and disorder they claim has been widespread at recent pro-Palestine protests in a series of racist and Islamophobic smears.

These statements will likely be interpreted as a rallying cry by anti-Muslim activists, with Saturday’s planned protest offering an opportunity to confront what they have repeatedly been told is London’s “Islamist” Mayor, “extemist” pro-Palestine protestors, and the “two-tier policing” of the Metropolitan Police.

In a Daily Telegraph article on 22 February former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who resigned after past language led to far-right street violence, claimed Islamists and anti-Semites were in control of the country. Braverman said: “The truth is that the Islamists, the extremists and the anti-Semites are in charge now. They have bullied the Labour Party, they have bullied our institutions, and now they have bullied our country into submission.”

The following day, former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lee Anderson claimed that Islamists were in control of London through Khan. Anderson said: “I don’t actually believe that these Islamist have gotten control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan, and they’ve got control of London”.

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a bizarre Downing Street speech in which he referred to pro-Palestine protests as “extremist disruption and criminality” that has “descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence”.

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