More than 160 anti-Islamist and rival protesters arrested in London

LONDON Sun Sep 8, 2013 12:53am BST

1 of 4. People demonstrate against a rally by the right-wing and anti-Islamist English Defence League (EDL), in London September 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - Police arrested more than 160 people in east London on Saturday during rival protests by hundreds of anti-Islamist activists and thousands of counter-demonstrators near an area home to one of Britain's largest Muslim communities.

About 3,000 police officers were deployed to keep a group of 500 members of the right-wing English Defence League, or EDL, apart from a larger group of anti-racist protesters, including Unite Against Fascism.

Police formed lines across the streets to enforce a ban on the EDL marching to the borough of Tower Hamlets, which has a large Muslim community, and to keep the counter-demonstrators in their assigned area.

Police imposed the geographic restrictions on the EDL march as well as a time restriction, fearing a risk to public order. The EDL lost a court battle on Friday to overturn the ban.

A police spokesman said about 150 counter-protesters were arrested after a group broke away and headed towards Tower Bridge where the EDL march was to end.

He said 14 others, mainly from the EDL, were arrested during the day for violent disorder, possession of knives and fireworks, and one 30-year-old man for inciting others to break the conditions set for the protest.

The EDL said on its Twitter account that the group's leader, Tommy Robinson, was arrested "for incitement".

Despite the high number of arrests, the police spokesman said there were no serious clashes.

"The police presence did manage to keep the two groups apart," he said.

Local MPs had written to police calling for the march to be banned, fearing a repeat of violent clashes in 2011 between the EDL, police and anti-fascist groups in Tower Hamlets.

They argued that the historical violence of EDL marches and heightened threats made against the Muslim community since the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby in a south London street in May posed a threat to community safety.

Two suspects, both British Muslims, face trial in November over Rigby's killing.

Chief Superintendent Jim Read of London's Metropolitan Police said the EDL and any counter group had a right to protest, but under conditions that would prevent any intimidation and public disorder.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (3)
PeterNkosi1 wrote:
Let’s do some maths:

Total arrests = 150 (say) + 14,

EDL arrests less than 14,

So, EDL arrests account for less than 9% of the total. However, the wording of the headline puts “anti-Islamist” first, biasing us against the EDL in our reading of the article.

The headline is further misleading in that the EDL website says that they are against only the extreme bits of Islam, and not the normal bits which are acceptable to every-day life in the UK.

I see that what local MPs had to say about the march takes up two paragraphs in the article. I am failing to find what the EDL had to say about it.

Sep 07, 2013 5:40am BST  --  Report as abuse
A.Mouse wrote:
Seems Mr “2writestoo” hasn’t read the first poster’s post properly. the first Post is actually questioning the accuracy of the story and asking about bias – rather than seeking to start civil war.

Sep 08, 2013 11:16am BST  --  Report as abuse
PeterNkosi1 wrote:
Hello 2writestoo,

I do not live in the UK. I live in Malawi, a country which is very far away from you.

I was trying to say in my post that the EDL was not being treated fairly in the article.

The reason that I posted here is that in the past I have come across campaigns in the UK media wherein my country has been defamed in order to promote certain causes. I know very well that what is being published is untrue, biased, or distorted to make my country look bad in order to whip up public support against it. I now read all media reports very carefully and came across several today wherein the EDL was being branded as an organisation of racists, fascists and so on. I just felt that was a bit unfair based on what I had read, so my post above was just to try to balance things out.

(Edited from what I had prepared off-line after seeing that the post by 2writestoo has been removed. ITS REMOVAL WAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!)

Sep 08, 2013 4:20pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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