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Families blast Muslim extremist for dishonouring dead soldiers

PUBLISHED: 16:24 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:50 12 August 2010

PARENTS of brave servicemen killed in Afghanistan have likened a planned protest by a radical Muslim extremist to dancing on their graves . Anjem Choudary s plot to stage a controversial walkthrough of the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett, where mourne

PARENTS of brave servicemen killed in Afghanistan have likened a planned protest by a radical Muslim extremist to "dancing on their graves".

Anjem Choudary's plot to stage a controversial walkthrough of the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett, where mourners gather for fallen troops, has caused outcry from relatives who have lost their loved ones in conflict.

The extremist is planning to march through the town with empty coffins to symbolise Afghan casualties at the hands of, he claims, British soldiers.

Just last month, the body of Orpington 18-year-old Private James Brown was repatriated through the market town.

His proud father Stephen was asked to meet the fanatic but turned down the invite.

The 51-year-old builder, of Chipperfield Road, said: "I'm sure that the war will end by people talking but I don't think me and him will be able to solve it. I wouldn't want to meet him. He is just trying to create a fuss and get some publicity which is good for him but not for anyone else. My boy got killed trying to save people's lives. He thinks our soldiers are all murderers but obviously they are not. James was born to be a soldier. At the end of the day he didn't kill anyone. He died doing a job."

Rifleman Brown's body was repatriated through Wootton Bassett on December 22 as his heartbroken girlfriend looked on.

She told the Times: "Being in Wootton Bassett has just made it even more real. Everyone knows this is where our heroes who never made it come home. This is the place that symbolises not only ours but a nation's grief."

Just two weeks later Aidan Howell, 19, from Sidcup, of the same Battalion died in the Kajaki area of Helmand.

His body was also repatriated through Wootton Bassett on Tuesday (5) morning.

Choudhary from Welling, Kent, was the leader of Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist Islamist organisation whose two offshoots, The Saviour Sect and Al-Ghurabaa, were banned under the British Terrorism Act in 2006. He is now the leader of web-organisation Islam4UK which is planning the march.

Speaking of her horror about his plans, Lesley Alderton, the mother of Eltham's Royal Engineer Jake Alderton, killed in Afghanistan in November 2007, said: "You can guess how angry I am, as I'm sure all the parents are.

"This is like your child being murdered and someone allowing their killer to dance on their grave.

"People are saying ignore him but why should we ignore him when he is causing so much outcry? Britain needs to get its balls back and not be so tolerant. We don't get any thanks for our kindness, we just get abused.

"I was shaking so much when I heard. It is not an easy time of year, from Remembrance Sunday to Christmas is very emotional, not that you ever forget when you lose a child- it's with you every day. I really hope that this is not allowed to go ahead."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke out against the protest on Monday, labelling it "offensive".

Petts Wood British Legion Poppy Appeal organiser, Dave Manning, said: "I agree with the Prime Minister. It's an absolute abhorrence.

"We're trying to respect the dead in a war that's going to go on for some considerable amount of time. Everyone we lose comes through the town of Wootton Bassett and people pay their respects. People come from all around now, every few days. This idiot is trying to upset what they are trying to do."

A date is yet to be set for the protest but speaking on Monday, Mr Choudary said: "We are having a procession, it's in Wootton Bassett but it's not about the people there and it's not against them personally - rather it's to highlight the real cost of war in Afghanistan.

"The sad reality of the situation is that if I were to hold it somewhere else it would not have the media attention that it has now."

kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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