Queen Visits Barracks as Dead Soldier’s Family Urges CalmThomas Penny and Kitty Donaldson
Queen Elizabeth II visited Woolwich Barracks in London, near where a soldier was killed last week, as his family appealed for calm amid rising tensions over the terrorist attack.
The monarch, who expressed concern at the killing last week, had already been scheduled to go to the barracks in the southeast of the capital before her visit was given additional resonance by the murder. One of the roles of the British royal family is to offer comfort in times of crisis. The queen met military personnel connected with the dead soldier, Lee Rigby, and involved in the response to the killing in private before having lunch in the sergeant’s mess, Buckingham Palace said.
In the wake of an increase in attacks on Muslims following the murder, Rigby’s family issued a statement urging respect for his memory. The anti-immigrant British National Party has organized a demonstration in London this weekend and members of the anti-Islamic English Defence League have clashed with police.
“Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to carry out attacks against others,” Rigby’s family said in a statement e-mailed today by the Ministry of Defence. “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.”
There have been 212 “hate incidents” against Muslims and 11 attacks on mosques reported to the helpline of Faith Matters, a non-profit organization that works to improve interfaith relations, since Rigby, 25, was killed. The incidents have averaged more than 26 a day, compared with a normal average of between four and six.
“Some of them are targeted: very focused, very aggressive attacks,” Faith Matters said in a statement on its website. “There also seems to be significant online activity, suggesting coordination of incidents and attacks against institutions or places where Muslims congregate.”
One of the two suspects in the murder was released from a hospital and taken into custody at a London police station. The 28-year-old man, identified by the BBC as Michael Adebolajo, was shot by police at the scene of the attack on May 22.
The other murder suspect, Michael Adebowale, appeared at a London court yesterday. Adebowale, 22, didn’t enter a plea to charges of murder and possession of a revolver at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. He was remanded into custody and his case was transferred to a higher court for trial.
A counterterrorism detective told the inquest into Rigby’s death today that the two suspects who attacked him encouraged bystanders to watch. A car swerved off the road to hit Rigby, Grant Mallon said. After stabbing him, the suspects moved his body into the middle of the road and asked people to look, he said.
Deputy Coroner Lorna Tagliavini adjourned the hearing in London to give police more time to conclude their investigation. Officers conducting the probe arrested two men, age 42 and 46, in the capital today on suspicion of being involved in the supply of illegal firearms.
Rigby, father of a 2-year-old son, was a drummer in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He served as a machine gunner in Cyprus and then in 2009 as a member of a fire support group in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
The queen reviewed a guard of honor on horseback from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, which moved to Woolwich from northwest London in February 2012. Since moving, they have had a high profile in the area, with horses regularly exercised on local roads.
Abu Nusaybah, who was arrested last week after appearing on BBC television’s “Newsnight” program to discuss the killing, was charged today with encouraging terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement. The charges against Nusaybah, 30, who said on “Newsnight” that he was a friend of Adebolajo, aren’t related to the Woolwich attack, according to the CPS.