Police are examining complaints that George Galloway gave an inflammatory speech at a rally attended by thousands of Muslims in which he claimed that far-right English Defence League (EDL) activists would have to fight their way “through 10,000 dead bodies” if they interfered with members of the Islamic faith in Britain.
The Metropolitan Police said officers are now looking into statements made by the left-wing Scottish politician during the speech made to more than 3,000 people at a rally and march in London in June.
The police have video footage of the former Glasgow MP, who is a founding member of the Respect Party, telling the rally: “To the EDL, take a look around you boys. Take a look around you. If you dare touch a hijab [hair cover] on a Muslim woman’s head, if you dare touch the hair on the beard of a Muslim man in Tower Hamlets, you will have to fight your way through 10,000 dead bodies first.”
A police spokesman said: “The complaints have been referred to officers and they are being considered. There is no formal investigation as yet and we are assessing the evidence.”
Footage of the Dundee-born former MP’s speech was also placed online at YouTube under the heading: “Why half a million Brits vote BNP. George Galloway incites race violence.”
Organisers said the London rally and march at which Galloway gave his speech was called with a view to showing the English Defence League that attempts to divide the community and stir up hatred will not be tolerated.
The event was organised by United East End and Unite Against Fascism in an area where 30% are Bengali/Muslim.
A march took the protesters past the East London Mosque – said to be an EDL target – where the annual general meeting of the Muslim Council of Britain is to be held.
The EDL, which has repeatedly claimed that the mosque is a centre for Islamic extremism, called off a demonstration against an Islamic conference due to be held on the same day.
Tower Hamlets Council had earlier called on both the EDL protest, as well as the Islamic conference, to be cancelled, labelling both events “extremist”.
Supporters of Galloway say that the firebrand politician is now being targeted by the EDL.
Four days before the march, Galloway’s Respect Party claimed that 20 EDL activists, who they described as “fascist thugs”, attacked a Pakistani stallholder in nearby Whitechapel. It is alleged they yelled racist insults and threatened to attack the East London Mosque.
Some days after the controversial speech, between 10 and 20 EDL members attempted to storm a meeting Galloway was speaking at in Greater Manchester.
It is understood most were stopped from getting into the hall by security guards.
Some observers say that three were forcibly removed from the scene while a fourth who got into the meeting room was arrested by police.
The EDL claimed that the members showed “the peace sign and were not aggressive” before being “set upon by a gang of Muslims”. They claimed one of the members was “taken hostage and beaten up”.
An EDL statement said “armed police were called and entered the building” and arrested a member.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed that they moved in after being alerted of disruption to a community meeting.
A 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and has been bailed until September 27 pending further inquiries.
One Million United, the anti-fascist group, says it has evidence that the EDL is arranging another attempt “to get to Galloway”.
During the last General Election Galloway lost his attempt to win the Poplar and Limehouse seat, finishing third; he didn’t attend the count.