The regiment of Drummer Lee Rigby has urged its members not to participate in “self-serving” demonstrations following the soldier’s brutal murder in Woolwich last week.
A number of demonstrations have been held since Drummer Rigby’s death last Wednesday, with members of the English Defence League marching through central London on Monday. EDL members protested outside Downing Street, with protesters heard chanting “Muslim killers off our streets” and “There’s only one Lee Rigby”.
Drummer Rigby’s regiment has now distanced itself from such demonstrations, with regimental secretary Brigadier Ian Liles criticising organisations trying to “exploit” the murder for “a range of self-serving and unhelpful reasons”.
In a statement on The Fusiliers Association North East Facebook page, he said: “A number of retired soldiers are evidently being approached and have agreed to take part in demonstrations connected to the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby. I want to make absolutely clear the Regiment’s view on this.
“The hackle and the Regiment is not to be associated with any organisations which seek to exploit the death of one of our Regimental family for a range of self-serving and unhelpful reasons.
“It is wrong and disgraceful that the death of one of our own should be exploited in this manner and that dishonour, by wrongful association, is brought onto the Regiment.”
Suggesting that Lee Rigby’s family also opposed the demonstrations, he added: “We must also remember Fusilier Rigby’s family who I know support all I have said. Do not allow the death of Fusilier Rigby to be exploited and his and their name used improperly and without the respect they are entitled to and have earned.”
A second statement on the Facebook page added: “The reputation of the Army will be damaged if individuals, with visible connections to the Army, participate in demonstrations in support of Dmr Rigby that are associated with extremist organisations.”
Reminding serving personnel that “racism of any kind is completely unacceptable”, the statement also urged veterans to avoid aligning with the EDL.
“It is appreciated that veterans do not follow orders from their Associations, however, some veterans with sympathies for the Rigby family and the Army in general, may not recognise the threat to the Army’s reputation if they are perceived to be supporting the EDL’s inflammatory agenda.”
“Please take care that this recommendation is not misinterpreted as an attempt to stifle support for the Rigby family from within the military community; I expect the support the RRF are providing to the Rigby family will be of the utmost value to them.”