Page last updated at 03:06 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 04:06 UK

Arrests at anti-Islamic protest


Protesters clash in Birmingham

Police in Birmingham have arrested 33 people during a demonstration against Islamic fundamentalism and counter-protest by anti-fascists.

The demonstration - by groups calling themselves the English and Welsh Defence League and Casuals United - was made up of football fans, said police.

The counter-protest was organised by campaign group Unite Against Fascism, West Midlands Police said.

Two people were injured in the disturbances in the city centre.

Police said there were "sporadic incidents of disturbance in the city centre" with the majority of the arrests being for disorder.

There was one report of criminal damage to a vehicle, but more were expected. No police officers were hurt.

It really wasn't nice to see and I hope I never see it again
Gary Nichols, eyewitness

'Burning flag'

Resident Gary Nichols witnessed the disturbances on Saturday evening from his city centre flat and said he was unable to go outside for about two and a half hours.

"It was very disheartening to see," he told the BBC.

"I've never experienced anything like it before in the three years I've lived here.

"It started off with a group of white guys who were chanting 'England, England'. I thought they were just football fans, but then a larger group of black and Asian people turned up and it all kicked off.

Youths drag a Union flag from a man's hands
Youths dragged a Union flag from a man's hands

"You had people burning the Union flag. People were being kicked - some of them weren't anything to do with the protests.

"It all seemed to be very systematic - groups were arriving in cars and getting involved in the violence.

"It really wasn't nice to see and I hope I never see it again."

Speaking before Saturday's demonstrations, on the West Midlands Police website, Superintendent Matt Ward said there had been a similar protest against Islamic fundamentalism last month, involving 70 to 90 people.

He said July's protest had been "vocal" but peaceful.

Asked about the latest demonstrations, Supt Ward said the police wanted to balance the rights of protesters with retailers and shoppers who wanted to use the city centre for their normal business.

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