LONDON, England — Protesters clashed with police Thursday outside the BBC’s main London studios ahead of a controversial TV appearance by far-right political leader Nick Griffin.
About 500 demonstrators and police engaged in some shoving outside the gates of BBC Television Centre, and pictures broadcast on the BBC showed at least two of the protesters being dragged bodily from the building.
Critics fear Griffin’s participation in panel show “Question Time” could propel his fringe anti-immigration British National Party into mainstream UK politics.
One protester at the demonstration outside the BBC was Philip McCiowen, 54, from Hertfordshire, north of London.
“Hitler started like this and in a small way Nick Griffin is trying to blame the Asians, Muslims and blacks. It’s exactly the same as in 1933 and he shouldn’t be allowed on television,” “McCiowen told the Press Association.
Parallels have been drawn between Griffin’s appearance on Britain’s most-watched political program, and Jean-Marie Le Pen’s debut on L’Heure de Vérité (The Hour of Truth), a similar show on French television in the 1980s.
Le Pen, founder and leader of the Front National (National Front) Party, credited the television appearance with taking him from the political wilderness to prominence on the political stage.
If traffic to the British National Party Web site is anything to go by, the outcry over Griffin’s appearance has already boosted interest, or at the very least, curiosity about the party.
A temporary site has been erected with a message: “We have had to take our normal Web site offline due to the enormous amount of ordinary people, just like you, visiting our Web site.”