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Fears Finsbury Park festival will be used to advertise banned terrorist organisation

PUBLISHED: 16:12 22 March 2012

A PKK supporter flies the organisation's flag.

A PKK supporter flies the organisation's flag.

Archant

Fears have been raised that a festival set to attract 5,000 people to Finsbury Park on Sunday will be used to advertise a banned terrorist organisation.

Police are concerned that the Newroz 2012 event, organised by the Kurdish Community Centre, based in Harringay, will attract visitors brandishing flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK.

The festival was given the all-clear by Haringey Council’s licensing committee last week.

Speaking at the meeting, police Sgt Simon Willmott described seeing one visitor draped in an illegal PKK flag at last year’s event, as well as flags attached to barriers at the venue.

He urged organisers to take “more proactive action” on Sunday to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s scenes.

He asked that security staff confiscate any prohibited flags and remove visitors who refuse to give them up.

But Mehmet Aksoy, 27, from the Kurdish Community Centre, insisted the issue was a very “contentious matter” for the Kurdish community who have a strong affinity to the PKK and do not view it as a terrorist organisation.

He said the situation was “very flammable”, explaining: “Approaching someone and asking them to take off a flag and them refusing is a very tense matter and normally it will cause a scene. We could put the rest of the crowd in harm’s way.”

Mr Aksoy added: “The police can’t do anything themselves because of the flammable nature of the situation, so it’s a little unfair to expect us to do the same thing.”

Sgt Willmott warned that should organisers fail to remove any PKK flags on show this Sunday, he would be recommending that the council reject next year’s application to hold the festival, which has been running for the last 20 years.

The Newroz festival marks the traditional Kurdish new year and will take place from noon to 6.45pm.

The PKK, regarded internationally as a terrorist organisation, has been fighting an armed struggle against the Turkish state for an autonomous Kurdistan since 1984.


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