Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 18:58 UK

Opposition to anti-Islamic march

Protestors
People from different groups met in protest of the WDL

About 200 people gathered to protest about a demonstration against Islamic extremism by the Welsh Defence League (WDL) in Swansea.

It was in reaction to about 60 members of the WDL staging a march in the city.

Despite police hopes the two groups would stage marches in different areas of the city, they converged.

About 200 police, some on horses, kept the groups apart. One man, 25, was arrested for a racially aggravated public order offence.

Roads were closed in order for the demonstrations to go ahead.

Speaking before its demonstration, the WDL said its event would be peaceful, but protests by its sister organisation the English Defence League have ended in disorder.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has accused the WDL of using "boot boy tactics".

But the WDL denied being racist and called Mr Hain's comments "nonsense".

A number of opposition groups were involved in the counter-demonstration.

Police had hoped the two groups would hold separate demonstrations. But despite their efforts, the groups came within close proximity of each other.

WDL members
The WDL said it was not a racist group

Dozens of officers lined the streets, included several officers on horses in order to keep the protest groups apart.

"When you bring two groups together... there's going to be passion, and that's what we have had today," said Ch Supt Mark Mathias during the demonstrations.

"So far it has been mostly peaceful.

"Originally we did two protest sites - two assembly points. We did think we could have two distinct locations either side of the city.

"Obviously that hasn't happened but so far, both groups have been kept separate."

Speaking after the event, he said: "I am pleased with the success the police operation today, which allowed the protests to pass off peacefully, whilst taking into the account the rights of the people of Swansea to go about their normal business.

"I would to thank them for patience and understanding for any disruption that was caused.

"People have the right to protest but overall the safety of the public and maintaining order is a priority."

It is understood a second WDL protest planned in Newport next weekend has been called off.



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17 Sep 09 |  West Midlands
Who are the English Defence League?
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