BBC Home > BBC News > England

Police warning over city protests

9 October 09 11:32 GMT

Police have said they are determined to maintain order when the English Defence League stages a demonstration against Islamic extremism in Manchester.

Trouble broke out when the league held a protest in Birmingham last month.

Supporters are due to gather in Piccadilly Gardens on Saturday, prompting a counter-demonstration by the Unite Against Fascism Group.

A spokesman for the Council of Manchester Mosques has called for Muslims to stay away from the protests.

Police said they do not have the power to ban protests which consist of a static assembly of people.

Mosque plea

Ch Supt Gerry Donnellan, from Greater Manchester Police, added: "We have been working closely with a range of local community representatives, Manchester City Council and other agencies to plan for the event.

"While we respect people's right to protest peacefully, the safety of the community is paramount. If you want to come to Manchester to protest don't get involved in disorder as you will get dealt with in a positive, firm and appropriate manner."

At last month's protest in Birmingham, gangs of men and youths hurled bottles at each other and pelted riot police with bricks in the city centre, prompting about 90 arrests.

The disturbance came after a group calling itself the English Defence League, which said it was protesting against Islamic extremism, was met with a counter demonstration.

An EDL member called Mike, from Merseyside, stressed the Manchester protest would be peaceful and anyone who was going and looking to create trouble would be "kicked out of our organisation".

"We are not protesting against Muslims, but against Muslim extremists," he added.

Manchester City Council, faith groups and traders had called on Home Secretary Alan Johnson to ban the rally.

Qadir Ahmad Chohan, spokesman for the Council of Manchester Mosques, advised against going to the demonstration.

He said anti Islamic propaganda should be "challenged in an intelligent and peaceful manner" and warned that "well-intentioned individuals may inadvertently be provoked into violence".

He added: "Any people that intend to attend any counter-protest against the far-right anti-Islamic propaganda are to be advised that their attendance may only serve to undermine the image of Muslims as a law-abiding and peaceful people."

Related BBC sites