7 Sep 2013

EDL and anti-fascists charge police lines at London protest

The EDL says its leader “Tommy Robinson” is arrested following a march and counter protests in east London, which broke out in scuffles and some disorder, and was policed by 3,000 officers.

Police used batons, kettled protestors and made arrests as they held apart an English Defence League (EDL) march and anti-EDL protestors in east London.

Hundreds of protesters threw flares and used placards in attempts to break police lines in Tower Hamlets. But officers policing the march contained the violence and kept the sides apart.

By 6pm, 14 people had been arrested, including anti-facist and anti-racist protesters.

A tweet on the EDL website read: “Tommy’s been arrested for incitement.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “A 30-year-old man was arrested for breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 and inciting others to breach section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

“He has been taken to a central London police station where he currently remains.”

Up to 2,000 EDL supporters were expected to attend the protest against what they see as the influence of Islam in the Tower Hamlets area. A large counter-demonstration was planned for the same day.

The EDL had lost a High Court battle over where they are allowed to demonstrate, and the Metropolitan Police said they feared it would cause “serious public disorder”.

Lawyer for the EDL, Jamas Hodivala, told the court that the group chose Tower Hamlets because, in their opinion, the area has become “subject to Sharia law”.

A judge sanctioned the police order on Friday, quashing an EDL challenge and accepting the Met Police’s argument that the march’s route was “unnecessarily provocative”. The Tower Hamlets borough has the biggest Muslim population in the country.

Tommy Robinson, leader of the EDL contested the ruling in a tweet:

Both of the area’s MPs called for a ban on the march, calling it a “deplorable hate preaching tactic which we have seen result in serious violence multiple times before”.

One of the more colourful anti-EDL groups is also called the EDL – the English Disco Lovers – “don’t hate, gyrate”.