The family of Woolwich murdered soldier, drummer Lee Rigby has sought for peace in the light of brewing animosity following his callous butchering by two gang members who are established Islamic fundamentalists.
Members of the family have called for calm and urged people not to use his name to attack others.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence, the family thanked the public for the “overwhelming support” they had received but urged people to show respect in “a peaceful manner” in the aftermath of the killing.
They said the 25-year-old’s death had had a devastating effect on them, but said they were amazed by the worldwide support they had received.
They spoke out as an inquest into the soldier’s death was opened and adjourned, during which it was revealed he had been working at the Tower of London on the day he died.
Their call came as Scotland Yard banned the British National Party from marching near the scene of Drummer Rigby’s killing in Woolwich amid fears of violent clashes with anti-fascist groups.
The Met refused the far right-wing party permission to hold a planned march tomorrow from Woolwich Barracks to the Lewisham Islamic Centre saying a rally must be held in Whitehall instead.
The statement from Drummer Rigby’s “wider family” including his wife and fiance said: “The loss of Lee has obviously had a devastating effect on us but in these sad times we would just like to say how grateful we are for the overwhelming support we have received from the general public, Army and the Police Service.
“The generosity, kindness and sympathy expressed by everyone we have come into contact with has been truly staggering and is giving us the strength to carry on. “
They had been “amazed by the messages of support we have received from all across the globe” and they were “deeply touched” after visiting the scene of the murder in Woolwich.
The statement said : “We all loved Lee deeply and we know that he loved us – we all miss him so much. He was a fun-loving, approachable young man with a smile that always managed to light up a room. We have heard so many stories about him from so many people and they have brought us great comfort.
“Lee loved life and he loved people. He had many friends from different walks of life – some with different religious beliefs and cultures. But this made no difference to Lee – he always treated others with the greatest of respect.”
It continued: “We are struggling to come to terms with his loss of and we are truly grateful for everybody’s support. We would like to emphasise that Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others. We would not wish any other families to go through this harrowing experience and appeal to everyone to keep calm and show their respect in a peaceful manner.”
The British National Party wanted to hold a march from Woolwich Barracks past the scene of Drummer Rigby’s murder to the Lewisham Islamic Centre.
A Met spokeswoman said they had intelligence of a serious risk of disorder and violence after a number of anti-fascist groups announced plans to hold counter demonstrations.
At first BNP leaders urged followers to meet in Woolwich as planned but today they said they would hold a rally at Whitehall.
But organisers of the far right party today threatened to defy the ban and police warnings that they face arrest if they try to protest near the site of the soldier’s death.
BNP leader Nick Griffin tweeted this morning : “We will defy anti-English Met. 1st step: Meet at permitted demo site. “
BNP spokesman Simon Darby said protesters might try to walk to Woolwich following the rally. “It is amazing that it is forbidden for an MEP to walk to one part of London,” he said.
Police said they took the rare decision to impose a ban on the location of the march under section 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act.
This allows a senior officer to place restrictions on a protest which, in this case, means the march must take place between Old Palace Yard and the Cenotaph in Whitehall between 1pm and 4pm.
Thousands of police officers are expected to be on alert for trouble in London tomorrow with reports that the English Defence League might also hold a series of events across the UK.
Met Commander Simon Letchford said: ““Those communities have made it clear to us the impact that groups expressing extreme views has upon them. We have listened to those concerns following Lee Rigby’s murder, and we will keep working with all our communities.
”We know that when groups with conflicting views come together it can create tension and disorder. What we have had to carefully consider is how to balance the right to protest with the negative impact on our communities and potential violence and disorder that may have resulted from these protests going ahead as they were suggested.“
He added: “If you want to protest on Saturday we ask that you do so peacefully, no matter what your view. We will work with you to enable that protest to go ahead. What we will also do is fulfil our duty to prevent crime and keep peace on our streets.
“The support we have received so far from Londoners has been outstanding, I would urge people to continue to show restraint and calm. We must continue to be a city that stands together.”
He said the decision to apply the restrictions was taken based on community tensions, the latest intelligence and violence recent marches and protests held by similar groups such as last weekend’s during the BNP rally in Downing Street.
Attempts by the Met to change the location of the protest via negotiation were unsuccessful, he added.
Source: Evening Standard