British police arrest 179 near Armistice Day service
British police said Friday they had arrested 179 members of a far-right group outside a pub in London to stop them breaching the peace during a ceremony remembering the war dead on Armistice Day.
All but three of the members of the English Defence League (EDL) were released with no further action, after the official event marking the end of World War I at the Cenotaph monument near the pub passed off peacefully.
"Police arrested a total of 179 people outside the Red Lion public house in Parliament Street today," Scotland Yard said in a statement.
It added: "Three people were arrested for affray and have been bailed pending further enquiries. 176 people were arrested to prevent a breach of the peace -- they have since been released no further action."
Police were on alert after the EDL clashed with Islamic protesters on Armistice Day last year, when members of a group called Muslims Against Crusades burned poppies, the symbol of the war dead, in another part of London.
There were no similar clashes this year, after Muslims Against Crusades called off a planned protest following the decision by Home Secretary Theresa May to ban the group for glorifying terrorism.
EDL members condemned the pre-emptive arrests, with one writing on its website: "Dreadful, truly dreadful policing that has now taken the focus away from our fallen heroes and the charities that work so hard to support them."
"We will remember them and we will not forget the sacrifices they made. I just hope the police will soon remember the freedoms that our forefathers died for and allow us to enjoy those freedoms again, such as walking down a road."
© 2011 AFP