Ugly scenes as police hold back anti-fascists at EDL protest over new mosque in Bristol

January 8, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

Dozens of police officers were called in to prevent an English Defence League protest from erupting into violence.

Around 30 EDL members marched on College Green in central Bristol to protest against plans to open a new mosque in the city.

But they were met by a group of anti-facists and a cordon of 24 police officers formed a barrier to keep the two sides apart.

A left-wing activist is restrained by police as the group hijacks an EDL protest over a new mosque in Bristol

A left-wing activist is restrained by police as the group hijacks an EDL protest over a new mosque in Bristol

A woman from the anti-fascist group voices her anger with a banner preaching 'love not hate'

A woman from the anti-fascist group voices her anger with a banner preaching ‘love not hate’

The rival factions spent just under an hour shouting slogans and abuse at each other before dispersing.

No arrests were made despite reports of a minor scuffle.

During the stand-off, the anti-Fascists shouted: “Nazi scum! Off our streets!” while the right wingers responded: “UAF! Off our streets!”

The EDL had vowed to stage a peaceful protest against a former comedy club, in Stokes Croft, being turned into a mosque.

But Bristol Unite Against Fascism held a counter-demonstration, attended by about 80 people, which led to the 40-minute stand-off near the entrance to Bristol Cathedral, on Thursday evening.

Two EDL members wave English flags during the demonstration against a new mosque in Bristol

Two EDL members wave English flags during the demonstration against a new mosque in Bristol

A sign proclaiming 'no more mosques' is displayed by the EDL member

A sign proclaiming ‘no more mosques’ is displayed by the EDL member

The EDL had discovered that members of the Assahaba Centre, which is behind the mosque plan, had been invited by the Safer Bristol Partnership to discuss their proposals with objectors at City Hall.

The controversial group had gathered at a pub at around 5.30pm before being escorted to City Hall for the protest.

The meeting was to discuss the objectors’ concerns and provide a better insight into the Islamic faith, but it was cancelled after the EDL protest was revealed.

A hooded EDL member with a scarf covering his face said during the protests on Tuesday night: “We don’t want any more mosques in the city. They preach hate. The Koran preaches hate.

“I’m English until I die. I don’t want any more Islam in our country.”

Martin Upchurch, convenor of Bristol Unite Against Fascism, said the purpose of their demo was to defend Bristol as a multi-cultural city.

He said any religious group had the right to worship and hold cultural events.

A police spokesman said: “It was a largely peaceful protest and there were no arrests. Around 80 people turned up and they had all dispersed by around 7pm.”

Hibaq Jama, Bristol’s first Somali councillor and a Muslim, said: “The EDL has no place in Bristol.

“They want to give the impression that Bristol has a problem with Islam but there isn’t one.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that people have seen this on their way home.”

The former Jesters club has been standing empty for nearly two years after the club’s owner, David Trew, said the business had become too expensive to operate.

Objectors to planning permission being granted were worried that a mosque could become a target for attacks by minority groups. They were also concerned about the appearance of proposed extensions.

The plans were approved by council officers under delegated powers on Monday.

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