Page last updated at 19:01 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 20:01 UK

Call for anti-Islamic marches ban


A member of the Welsh Defence League defends the group

There are calls to ban two marches planned by a group of football fans called the Welsh Defence League.

They claim it is to protest against radical Islam and they are not racist but opponents accuse them of being a fascist organisation targeting Muslims.

Marches are planned in Swansea and Newport. Police say they are putting plans in place to avoid a repeat of violent clashes seen in Birmingham.

Football clubs across Wales have also condemned the group.

They were unhappy club logos were used to promote the cause.

Ninety people were arrested when protesters from the English and Welsh Defence League clashed with anti-fascist campaigners in Birmingham in September.

It is understood football fans from south Wales played their part in the demonstrations.

Now the Welsh Defence League is planning to take to the streets of Swansea and Newport in the coming weeks, an investigation by BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye programme has discovered.

They say they are against Muslim extremists and the introduction of Sharia law in Britain.

Newport wanted to "disassociate itself from this organisation and its campaign".
Swansea City said it "abhors racism" and "does not support or affiliate itself to this organization, its campaign or any other group of this nature".
Wrexham said it was "not involved with the group in question and does not support their intentions".
Cardiff City said it forbids the use of its official material to support, what it calls, racist activity by any organisation. It also welcomes fans of "all races and creeds".
Source: BBC Wales Dragon's Eye

One member called Mike said: "We're not racist, because we're standing up against Islam. I mean the police are terrified to upset Muslims, right, and the fact is that militant Islamists in this country, they're on a jihad, a holy war against us, they want to kill us."

The Welsh Defence League says Muslim and other ethnic minority groups can join but opponents say this is a smoke screen for their real views.

Jeff Hurford, from Unite Against Fascism, said: "If you actually look at their website the reality is they use the word jihadist for almost any Muslim - for almost anybody who actually speaks out about almost anything whatsoever is a jihadist."

But a member of the English Defence League (EDL) called Michael, who is black, insisted the group is not racist.

"EDL support all English people who are proud of our country... That want to stop islamic extremism," he said.

"We're not racist. I'm a black man and I'm proud to be English that's why I joined the EDL."

The Welsh Defence League has used the logos of football teams to promote its cause but Dragon's Eye discovered that all Welsh clubs have now spoken out against them.

When the campaign group, Show Racism the Red Card contacted the clubs involved they all said the group didn't have permission to use the clubs logos and Cardiff City has even taken legal action to prevent its crest being used.

The Football Association of Wales said it "in no way condones the practices or ideology of such groups as this ".

Now there are calls for police to stop the marches in Swansea and Newport taking place.

Mohammed Tufail, from Race Equality First, said: "I think they should be banned I don't think they should be allowed to express the views they're expressing.

"Because those views are racist, they're fascist, they're just picking on a community for no reason other than their faith."

Police across south Wales say they are putting together plans to prevent a repeat of the violent clashes seen in Birmingham.

Dragon's Eye is on BBC1 Wales at 2235 BST on Thursday.

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