Protests close London's St Paul's Cathedral

21st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

St Paul's Cathedral said Friday it was closing its doors to the public for the first time in modern history because of anti-capitalist demonstrators camping outside the London landmark.

More than 200 activists inspired by the US Occupy Wall Street movement have taken over the churchyard in front of the cathedral in London's financial district since Saturday to protest against corporate greed and state cutbacks.

"I have written an open letter to the protestors this afternoon advising them that we have no lawful alternative but to close St Pauls Cathedral until further notice," said Graeme Knowles, the dean of the cathedral.

He said health, fire and safety officers believed there was a fire hazard from stoves, fires and different types of fuel being used near tents, while there was also a "public health aspect" from waste produced by the protesters.

"The decision to close St Pauls Cathedral is unprecedented in modern times," he added.

St Paul's has in the past served as a symbol of London's spirit, particularly during the Blitz bombing campaign by Nazi Germany in World War II.

Knowles however refused to condemn the protesters, saying that they had been peaceful so far and that there was "something profound about protest being made and heard in front of this most holy place".

Inspired by Occupy Wall Street and Spain's "Indignants", the Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters set up camp on Saturday, when about 1,000 people were involved in scuffles with police.

There were protests in 80 countries at the weekend, some of which turned violent, especially in Rome where 135 people were injured.

© 2011 AFP

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