Winston Churchill-inspired ‘Blighty cafe’ is stormed

A group of protesters stormed a Winston Churchill-themed cafe and chanted that the war time prime minister was a ‘racist’ in front of customers.

Campaigners sang ‘it is our duty to fight for our freedom’ and urged the owner of the Blighty UK cafe in Finsbury Park, north London, to apologise to the local community.

They also urged diners to boycott the packed cafe, and chanted: ‘We have nothing to lose but our chains’.

Police were called after they stormed the eatery, which has already been under attack from vandals and Labour activists.  

Owner Chris Evans, 47, reported the intruders, who are also leaving scathing online reviews slating the cafe, to police after his staff were left shaken.

He was also forced to remove a giant mural of Churchill after it was daubed with graffiti which branded the war time prime minister ‘scum’ and and ‘imperialist’. 

Halimo Hussein (left) seemed to be leading the chants and kept repeating 'we have nothing to lose but our chains'

Halimo Hussein (left) seemed to be leading the chants and kept repeating 'we have nothing to lose but our chains'

Halimo Hussein (left) seemed to be leading the chants and kept repeating ‘we have nothing to lose but our chains’

Nine protesters stormed the cafe in north London on the weekend and were heard chanting 'Churchill was a racist' 

Nine protesters stormed the cafe in north London on the weekend and were heard chanting 'Churchill was a racist' 

Nine protesters stormed the cafe in north London on the weekend and were heard chanting ‘Churchill was a racist’ 

The group read from scripts as they urged customers inside the packed cafe to boycott the Blighty UK 

The group read from scripts as they urged customers inside the packed cafe to boycott the Blighty UK 

The group read from scripts as they urged customers inside the packed cafe to boycott the Blighty UK 

A giant mural of Winston Churchill was daubed with graffiti which branded the prime minister 'scum' 

A giant mural of Winston Churchill was daubed with graffiti which branded the prime minister 'scum' 

A giant mural of Winston Churchill was daubed with graffiti which branded the prime minister ‘scum’ 

Mr Evans said: ‘If you cannot celebrate Britain and great Britons you are just erasing history. And if you cannot celebrate Churchill, you cannot celebrate anyone.’ 

As a result, officers attended the cafe and viewed a video of the demo taken on a mobile phone. 

It has now emerged that the group’s leader is Halimo Hussein an avid Labour supporter and Jeremy Corbyn fan. 

She is the co-president of Equality and Liberation at SOAS, University of London’s student union.

Throughout the clip she could be shouting: ‘We have nothing to lose but our chains’ and called for the owner of the cafe to apologise to the local community. 

The Labour activists are behind an online campaign against the business and its sister cafe, Blighty India in nearby Tottenham.

Labour Party members Ewa Lefmann and Zainab Khan originally started a petition demanding that Mr Evans ditches his Churchill theme, which they claim uses ‘history in a light-hearted fancy dress manner’.

Nine protesters then burst into the cafe on Saturday and stood in front of startled diners, chanting about racism and taking it in turns to read from a prepared script.

One woman declared: ‘We cannot accept the unashamed colonial and gentrifying presence of this cafe’ before the group chanted ‘You will never make colonialism palatable’.

The next to speak was Ms Hussein who said: ‘To the owner of the cafe, apologise to the local community for their poorly thought and insensitive branding and promptly change it from the menu to the aesthetics and décor of the cafe’. 

Revealed: Labour activist, 24, who led anti-Churchill chants at Blighty cafe inspired by Britain’s wartime PM is a devout Corbyn supporter 

Ms Hussein is a devout supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and could be seen and heard throughout the clip 

Ms Hussein is a devout supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and could be seen and heard throughout the clip 

Ms Hussein is a devout supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and could be seen and heard throughout the clip 

The Labour activist who led anti-Winston Churchill chants at a cafe dedicated to the wartime prime minister is a 24-year-old student and devout Jeremy Corbyn supporter. 

Halimo Hussein is a politics student at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London and stormed the Blighty UK cafe with eight other activists on Saturday.

They began chanting and urged customers to ‘boycott’ the north London cafe and Ms Hussein even told the owner to apologise to the local community. 

She was seen throughout the video leading chants and repeatedly shouted: ‘We have nothing to lose but our chains.’

And it has now emerged that she is a devout Labour supporter who uploaded a picture on her Facebook page which read: ‘No Tories on my profile.’ 

She was elected Co-President of Equality and Liberation by her fellow students after writing online: ‘Decolonial politics should be at the forefront in pushing for institutional change.

‘I want to fight against the exploitation of our tutors and cleaners, SOAS claims to be committed to living wage yet disregards workers rights.’ 

She also uploaded a photograph of her with fellow Labour supporter, comedian Russell Brand, on her Facebook page. 

In 2015, the student also said ‘another five years of austerity, snaking the poor, students and migrants’ after David Cameron was re-elected.

Halimo Hussein (pictured) led the chants inside the packed cafe on Saturday and repeatedly shouted: 'We have nothing to lose but our chains'

Halimo Hussein (pictured) led the chants inside the packed cafe on Saturday and repeatedly shouted: 'We have nothing to lose but our chains'

Halimo Hussein (pictured) led the chants inside the packed cafe on Saturday and repeatedly shouted: ‘We have nothing to lose but our chains’

Ms Hussein also left a scathing online review of the cafe which read: ‘Bland breakfasts and awful watery tasting coffee, toilets filthy.’

And when Corbyn was elected the leader of the Labour Party in 2015 she posted an image of the moment he found out he was in charge. 

She posted on Facebook: ‘Found my cover photo’ and she added that the moment had ‘made her day’. 

Ms Hussein (pictured with Russell Brand in 2017) is a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London

Ms Hussein (pictured with Russell Brand in 2017) is a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London

Ms Hussein (pictured with Russell Brand in 2017) is a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London

Ms Hussein (right) left a scathing online review of the cafe which read: 'Bland breakfasts and awful watery tasting coffee'

Ms Hussein (right) left a scathing online review of the cafe which read: 'Bland breakfasts and awful watery tasting coffee'

Ms Hussein (right) left a scathing online review of the cafe which read: ‘Bland breakfasts and awful watery tasting coffee’

The cafe's signature dish is 'The Winston' - a traditional full English breakfast with Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire black pudding

The cafe's signature dish is 'The Winston' - a traditional full English breakfast with Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire black pudding

The cafe’s signature dish is ‘The Winston’ – a traditional full English breakfast with Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire black pudding

One woman (left) led the chanting and the group eventually left the cafe shouting 'Churchill was a racist' 

One woman (left) led the chanting and the group eventually left the cafe shouting 'Churchill was a racist' 

One woman (left) led the chanting and the group eventually left the cafe shouting ‘Churchill was a racist’ 

Nine demonstrators burst into the Blighty UK Cafe in North London on Saturday and told customers to boycott the place for ‘celebrating colonialism’

Nine demonstrators burst into the Blighty UK Cafe in North London on Saturday and told customers to boycott the place for ‘celebrating colonialism’

Nine demonstrators burst into the Blighty UK Cafe in North London on Saturday and told customers to boycott the place for ‘celebrating colonialism’

The other female protester resumed: ‘To the customer, we ask you that you boycott this cafe until they take the concerns of the community seriously’.

Other group chants included ‘It is our duty to win’ and ‘We must love and support each other’.

As they trooped out, a customer hit back: ‘Churchill fought for our freedom’, to which the group chanted: ‘Churchill was a racist’.

Ms Hussein is a staunch supporter of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn. 

While running for office in her student union, she explained: ‘I want to bring decolonial politics to the forefront in our fight for institutional change.’

She is pictured on Facebook with comedian Russell Brand, a fellow Corbyn supporter.

Ms Hussein also left a scathing online review of the cafe that read: ‘Bland breakfasts and awful watery tasting coffee, toilets filthy.’

Owner Mr Evans said: ‘I have already invited these people in for coffee to discuss their concerns.

‘Instead, they have come in and shouted at my customers. My staff have been left frightened and so I am reporting the incident to the police today.

A group of protesters stormed the cafe and sang it is our duty to fight for our freedom 

A group of protesters stormed the cafe and sang it is our duty to fight for our freedom 

A group of protesters stormed the cafe and sang it is our duty to fight for our freedom 

‘I would much rather they came to debate in a civilised manner what it means to be British in modern Britain.

‘As far as I am concerned, if you cannot celebrate Britain and great Britons you are just erasing history.

‘And if you cannot celebrate Churchill, you cannot celebrate anyone.’ 

Mr Evans previously reported vandals to police for defacing the cafe’s striking street art mural of Churchill’s famous two fingers pose alongside the slogan ‘double shot’, jokily claiming that he was ordering a double espresso.

After a spate of graffiti attacks over several years, he decided it was easier simply to ditch the design.

Blighty India boasts a neon portrait of Gandhi, Bollywood posters and India flags as part of the cafe chain’s branding celebrating Commonwealth countries.

Diners a the cafe drink from Churchill mugs underneath model Spitfires and Union Jack flags.

The cafe’s signature dish is ‘The Winston’ – a traditional full English breakfast with Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire black pudding.

And they can pose for pictures alongside a sculpture of the wartime leader – whose extraordinary achievements are currently being celebrated in hit movie Darkest Hour – or inside a World War II air raid shelter. 

One of the diners said that Churchill fought for the UK's freedom which resulted in the group chanting: 'Churchill was a racist' 

One of the diners said that Churchill fought for the UK's freedom which resulted in the group chanting: 'Churchill was a racist' 

One of the diners said that Churchill fought for the UK’s freedom which resulted in the group chanting: ‘Churchill was a racist’ 

When one diner says 'Churchill fought for our freedom', a protester replies 'Churchill  was a racist'. The wartime leader is seen leaving Downing Street in an undated image

When one diner says 'Churchill fought for our freedom', a protester replies 'Churchill  was a racist'. The wartime leader is seen leaving Downing Street in an undated image

When one diner says ‘Churchill fought for our freedom’, a protester replies ‘Churchill was a racist’. The wartime leader is seen leaving Downing Street in an undated image

The cafe’s menu offers a vegan breakfast called ‘The Gandhi’ as well as ‘Bombay Hash’, ‘Bengali Breakfast’ and ‘Eggs Kerala’ and the cafe stages regular curry nights, yoga classes and creates cocktails with name like ‘Bombay Sunrise’.

In their petition, Haringey residents Ewa Leffman, Zainab Khan, and Jasmine Davies are calling for Tottenham MP David Lammy to intervene.

They claim the cafes ‘insensitively evoke memory of the Empire’, writing: ‘We understand that many see the Commonwealth as a celebration of a group of countries but it has little to do with cafes.

‘While Blighty does make a point of sourcing its coffee from countries that are in the Commonwealth, we feel its framing of the Commonwealth is an outdated concept using its history in a light-hearted ‘fancy dress’ manner.

‘We would like to step in now and ask them to adjust their brand whilst there’s still only two branches.’

Khan, whose family moved from India in the Sixties, complained that Blighty India ‘ignores the suffering the Empire caused and turns colonial rule into a frivolous theme’.

She is pictured on Facebook outside 10 Downing Street, campaigning against then PM David Cameron. She wrote: ‘Just going in to kick Dave out’.

She is also pictured with Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who she jokes is her ‘best friend now’ after repeated meetings.

There is no suggestion that those behind the petition or protest in the cafe were involved in the vandalism of the Churchill mural.

One diner tweeted about the protesters: 'They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee'

One diner tweeted about the protesters: 'They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee'

One diner tweeted about the protesters: ‘They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee’

Stunned customers carried on eating, drinking and talking during the demonstration on Saturday 

Stunned customers carried on eating, drinking and talking during the demonstration on Saturday 

Stunned customers carried on eating, drinking and talking during the demonstration on Saturday 

A debate is also raging about the cafes on social media. Activists from Black Lives Matter UK tweeted: ‘So glad people are calling this Empire nostalgia out’.

But other customers and local residents are calling the campaign against the cafes ‘madness’.

Alexander Hamilton, who was dining during the demo, tweeted: ‘Just been a reluctant part of some form of anti-Churchill protest at @BlightyUKCafe.

‘They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee’.

Another customer wrote to the cafe, saying: ‘I was horrified to read about the attack on your cafe and this pressure from a group of self-appointed nobodies trying to stop you presenting it in the way that you wanted and intended.

‘After all, if they do not like your cafe nobody is forcing them to patronise it – but they would like to force their views on others and stop them from enjoying Blighty being presented in the form you intended.

‘I hope plenty of others show their support for you.’

Another resident wrote: ‘Sorry but is this a joke? They’re a small business providing employment in the local area.

‘Stop harassing them! Surely there are more worthy campaigns!? I didn’t know they existed, so I’ll now definitely give them my custom!’   

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