Fascists target pro-Palestinian marchers
MEMBERS of the English Defence League – a loose structured group of former squaddies, football hooligans with neo-Nazi views – last weekend tried to attack a London protest march in support of Gaza.
Police made no arrests and succeeded in keeping the fascists and the marchers apart. But there were several brief confrontations as EDL activists chanted "We hate Muslims" and "Muslim bombers off our streets".
The pro-Palestinian protesters held up banners with slogans including “Justice for the murdered children of Gaza”, “We are all Palestinians”, “Boycott Israel” and “Judaism rejects the Zionist state”.
People from a number of organisations and groups throughout the country, both Muslim and non-Muslim, joined the demonstration, held during Ramadan every year.
The demonstration's organiser, Raza Kazim, from the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "It's in aid of the oppressed people of Palestine in particular, but the idea of al-Quds is more general than that. It's for people who have been oppressed.”
Commenting on the EDL, he said that supporters of Israel usually protested but with them, he said, were "the BNP, the EDL, the racists, the extremists – all of this unholy alliance have got together" to say oppression should continue.
“We are going to say: 'No, that this is not going to happen'. That is why we are here – to raise our voices against that," he added.
Debt stress costs NHS millions
THE LONDON Health Forum last week reported that treating stress-related ill health in the capital costs the NHS £450 million a year.
Around 250,000 Londoners suffer from mental health problems as a result of debt, job cuts and money worries, resulting in 350,000 London GP appointments a year.
Stress-related illnesses which could cause high blood pressure and heart attacks are also on the rise, it said.
The forum urged councils and primary care trusts to "prescribe early debt advice" to Londoners.
The forum's report, London Capital of Debt, said primary care trusts in London are currently spending £1.8bn a year treating patients with mental health issues, which is 26 per cent more than the national average.
About one million Londoners suffer from mental health problems, a quarter of whom are worried about debt, the report said.
The forum said on average these people make 3.5 visits to GPs, which works out as 350,000 GP appointments sought in London a year.
John Murray, director of the forum, said: "The latest figures from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service show a 40 per cent increase in calls from Londoners to its helpline compared to a year ago.
"The NHS therefore needs to go onto a preventive footing by getting people to debt advice sooner, using the extensive channels of communication at its disposal."