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Police arrest 90 after violent street clashes between anti-fascists and right-wing ‘English Defence League’ protesters in Birmingham

Ninety people were arrested after violent clashes between Right-wing protesters and anti- fascist campaigners in Birmingham. The trouble flared in the city centre on Saturday as the so-called English Defence League held a rally against Islamic fundamentalism and was met with a counter-demonstration. As terrified shoppers looked on, gangs of men and youths hurled bottles at one another and pelted riot police with bricks in the New Street area of the city, close to the main train station.

Steven Addison, 28, said: ‘Some of the “protesters” just looked like they wanted a ruck. It was pretty shocking to see, especially in a part of the city which is usually very pleasant.’

Last month there were also clashes when the English Defence League – formed after British soldiers were abused by Islamic radicals at a homecoming parade in Luton – held a rally on the same day as the Unite Against Fascism group.

The latest disorder involved around 200 people and spilled on to Bennetts Hill, a street popular with shoppers and lined with a number of pubs.

English Defence League marchers were involved in running disturbances which lasted all afternoon before the Right-wing protesters were taken to another part of the city by bus.

Witnesses claimed the English Defence League marchers, many of whom had been drinking since the morning, ripped up seats on the journey away from the city centre.

But some members slipped away from the police, clashing with more than 30 socialist protesters amid

cries of ‘Racist scum, out of Brum’. After an hour of angry skirmishes in the city centre, the situation deteriorated further after a group of Asian men also joined in.

Sarah Edwards had to duck into a cafe to avoid being caught in the violence.

She said: ‘We suddenly saw what seemed to be about 200 Asian men running down the street, throwing bricks. ‘They had bandanas over their faces and were shouting and screaming. We were so scared, we feared for our lives and had to run into the cafe so we wouldn’t get hurt. It is so shocking to see this on our streets.’

The English Defence League has claimed it is not racist, even saying it did not want any violence to happen at the pre-planned protest.

One protester from the league, Leisha Brookes, 42, said: ‘We are simply protesting about the fact that if people come to our country, they should respect our laws.

‘If an English person went to an Arab country they would be expected to dress appropriately, and all we are asking is for them to do the same.’

The league has planned protest marches in other cities, including one next month in Manchester.

Yesterday a West Midlands Police spokesman said all those arrested were male, aged between 16 and 39, and offences included criminal damage and violent disorder, including possession of an offensive weapon.

He added: ‘A number of fixed penalty notices have been issued while the remainder have been bailed while further enquiries take place.’

Source:  Mail Online

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