Bottles, stones thrown at British far-right protest

28th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Members of a 700-strong crowd of far-right protesters threw bottles, stones and smoke bombs at anti-fascist demonstrators Saturday in the ethnically-mixed English city of Bradford.

A heavy police presence swiftly contained the stand-off but the protest has raised fears of a repeat of race riots that rocked Bradford in 2001.

Members of the English Defence League (EDL) staged a "static" demonstration in this northern city, home to one of Britain's largest Pakistani communities, against what they claim is the expansion of radical Islam in Britain.

Police said about 700 EDL members turned up, contained in a small area in the centre of Bradford after the government banned them from marching through the city amid fears of unrest.

About 250-300 people joined a rival demonstration by United Against Fascism across the road, officers said.

Despite two cordons of police, the groups briefly got near each other and EDL members threw bottles, cans, stones and a smoke bomb over the barricades.

Chanting "give us our country back" and holding signs saying "no more mosques" and "no to sharia (law)", the EDL protesters were soon pushed back by police.

Saturday's demonstration is being closely watched amid concerns of a repeat of 2001, when a planned march by the far-right National Front sparked riots by local youths.

More than 300 police officers were injured in running street battles, and 200 people were eventually jailed over the unrest.

© 2010 AFP

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