EDL protest sparks police warning

Date published: 07 October 2009

Police fear violent clashes when a group branded as far-right fascists demonstrate in Manchester on Saturday (10 October).

A protest has been organised by the English Defence League (EDL) and aims to protest against Islamic extremism.

However, a counter-protest by the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) group will be held in the city centre on the same day.

EDL organisers have informed Greater Manchester Police of the demonstration, which they anticipate will see hundreds of supporters flock to the city.

A similar rally in Birmingham earlier this year resulted in 90 arrests.

Police do not have the power to ban protests which consist of a static assembly of people.

But a large police operation has been organised as both groups will hold their demonstrations in the afternoon, a busy time for families and shoppers.

The operation is aimed at ensuring residents and visitors are able to go about their business, while allowing people’s democratic right to protest.

An EDL spokesman said: “We are expecting some disturbance from Islamic extremists. The EDL haven’t attacked, we have been attacked.”

Ameen Hadi, spokesman for the Greater Manchester branch of UAF, said: “We don’t think there is any place for fascists and racists to meet in our city centre.”

Chief Supt Gerry Donnellan said: “While we respect people’s right to protest peacefully, the safety of the community is paramount. Anyone who behaves in a way which might create disorder will be dealt with.”

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