Aaron's family takes stand against march

IPSWICH: Outraged and disgusted, the family of Ipswich war hero Aaron McClure are today taking a stand against the Muslim extremists threatening to march through Wootton Bassett.

Lizzie Parry

IPSWICH: Outraged and disgusted, the family of Ipswich war hero Aaron McClure are today taking a stand against the Muslim extremists threatening to march through Wootton Bassett.

The fallen soldier's family have set up a Facebook group, Families of the fallen in Afghanistan to lead the line in Wootton Bassett, and plan to lead the relatives of those who have died in the warzone in peaceful protest at the planned march if it goes ahead.

Anjem Choudary and 500 members of controversial group Islam4UK are threatening to parade through the town with empty coffins to symbolise Muslims they claim were “mercilessly murdered” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Facebook group has already attracted more than 4,000 supporters since its creation on Monday, with in excess of 2,000 people joining yesterdayalone.

Many supporters are pledging to walk arm in arm with the McClures.

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Private McClure, 19, was killed on August 23, 2007 while serving with the 1st Battalion, The Vikings, The Royal Anglian Regiment in Helmand Province.

Lorraine McClure, Aaron's mum, of Marlow Road, said she could not sit back and watch extremists “tarnish the sacred road” her son and hundreds of others have travelled down on their journey home.

She said: “Wootton Bassett has become a very special place for us families of the fallen, and the people there have shown their utmost respect by honouring them in the way they do.

“They do not deserve their town to be descended upon by the likes of Anjem Choudary and his pathetic band of followers. They are inciting anger and hatred in this country, it has to be stopped.

“If they want to protest why don't they do it outside 10 Downing Street or Parliament? Why choose Wootton Bassett? Because they know it will cause outrage and distress to so many people.

“I can't sit back and watch anyone mock Aaron for proudly doing his job and sacrificing himself for it.”

Her brother, Allan McClure, of Roundwood Road, said: “It is extremely upsetting for all the families who have lost loved ones in the conflict. The support we have received has been immense, families of fallen soldiers, people in the army and normal people in the street have been saying 'we stand behind you'.”

The controversy comes as another Suffolk soldier, Newmarket rugby player Private Robert Hayes, also 19 and serving with the Royal Anglians, became the first casualty of the war this year when he was killed on Sunday. His body is expected to be repatriated to Wootton Bassett in the coming weeks.

Should the protestors be allowed to march? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Anjem Choudary, a 42-year-old cleric, was widely condemned when he announced plans for the march at the weekend.

The proposals have already prompted more than 350,000 signatures on another Facebook petition demanding it be banned by the government.

Amid fears the march would lead to violence, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he will have no hesitation in backing any request by Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council to ban it.

He said: “The idea that anyone would stage this kind of demonstration in Wootton Bassett fills me with revulsion. Those behind this stunt seek only to incite hatred and discord.”

Kim Macey posted: “If they march then so shall we.”

Jason Allen, an ex-Para and Viking said: “I would be honoured to stand along side you at WB. We are at present mourning the loss of another brave young Viking who was defending this country as per the instructions of the government. So to allow such an act of treason to happen is a disgrace.”

Carole Ridley added: “As a proud mum to a serving soldier out in Afghanistan I would stand arm in arm with you, united we stand in the face of opposition.”

Tina Gale said: “I will walk beside you, let's outnumber them and show them how proud we are of our boys and what they do. The McClure family will not stand alone.”

Maxine Priest posted: “I would be honoured to walk with you. If our boys have the guts to stand up to them over there, I definitely have the guts to stand up to them here.”