Police arrest 33 after protests over Islam

LONDON Sun Aug 9, 2009 12:39am BST

1 of 9. An injured man is surrounded by police officers after a right wing demonstration sparked violence in Birmingham, central England August 8, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

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LONDON (Reuters) - Police arrested 33 people when violence erupted in the centre of Birmingham on Saturday after a protest against Islamic fundamentalism and a counter-demonstration.

"Officers were deployed throughout the city centre to manage the two separate protests which took place this afternoon. We can confirm 33 arrests have been made to date -- the majority for disorder," West Midlands Police said.

One person needed hospital treatment, a spokesman for the ambulance service said.

Police were unable to estimate the total number of demonstrators from either of the two groups involved, the English and Welsh Defence League, which was protesting against Islamic fundamentalism, and Unite Against Fascism.

"To date there has been one report of criminal damage to a car, although we expect further reports. We have also had reports of two people being injured and no known injuries to police officers," the police said.

Blogs promoting the English and Welsh Defence League said the group grew out of dissatisfaction with an Islamist protest in Luton in March against the homecoming parade of British troops who had served in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by David Milliken)

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