Saturday, 5 February 2011

EDL Marches Through 'Home Town'










February 05, 2011, Graham Fitzgerald, Sky News Online

A controversial march by supporters of the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) has ended as it began - with no reports of violence.

EDL supporters from across the UK and Europe converged on Luton, the Bedfordshire town that spawned the far-right movement.

Around 3,000 gathered near the main train station and were escorted by police to St George's Square.

The group chanted "Muslim bombers off our streets" and carried banners, some of which read "No more mosques".

A number of firecrackers exploded as the march got under way, startling police horses.

Counter-demonstrations were staged by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and sections of the local Muslim community.

Some 3,000 EDL supporters from all across Europe took part in the March

Groups of UAF supporters made several attempts to break away from their protest in Park Square and reach the EDL march but were thwarted by police.

Over 1,000 police including mounted officers and dog units were deployed to keep the two sides apart at a cost of £800,000.

The EDL demo came on the same day Prime Minister David Cameron told a security conference in Munich state multi-culturalism in Britain had failed.

EDL Founder Stephen Lennon, 28, told Sky News on Friday he had been warned his life was in danger and was under police protection.

The march ended with a rally with Stephen Lennon among the speakers.

Speaking about the demonstration, Mr Lennon, who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, said he did not want it to turn violent.

He added: "We want it to be peaceful. We want to get our point across. We want our local and national issues at the forefront, not anything else."

Police said they had arrested a number of people in a minibus travelling to the event. One has been bailed to return at a later date for possession of cannabis.

The march ended with a rally at which there were a number of speakers including Mr Lennon. He told the crowd: "There are no racial tensions in Luton, just religious tensions."

A huge police operation has been mounted in case of trouble

Despite many local businesses closing their doors and boarding up their windows, the demonstration began and ended with no significant incidents reported.

The EDL, which was launched almost two years ago, opposes what it sees as the spread of Sharia law and militant Islam in England.

It originated from a group known as the United Peoples of Luton, which was formed in response to a Muslim protest in the town at a parade for soldiers returning from Iraq.

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