Around 200 supporters of far-right groups have descended on Dudley in the Midlands, to protests against plans to build a new mosque in the town. Demonstrators were carrying English flags and chanting patriotic slogans, while police made at least one arrest.
Police said that fewer people than expected had turned up to the rally in the town center on Saturday. Some were holding banners reading: “No surrender to terrorists, not now, not ever.” Other demonstrators were carrying English flags and chanting slogans.
According to footage from RT’s video agency Ruptly, some of the protesters tried unsuccessfully to push against police lines. At least one person was arrested and another received first aid from officers.
The march was organized by a series of anti-Islam groups, which included All Football Fans/Firms Against Islamization (AFFFAI), the English Defense League, and Britain First.
Saturday’s rally is the third to be held this year in Dudley to oppose plans for an £18 million ($28 million) new mosque in the town. Its organizers deny they are trying to incite violence and say they want to express their right to protest.
The Express and Star, a local newspaper, asked Amjid Raza, a spokesman for the Dudley Central Mosque and the Dudley Muslim Association to address the comments made by Kevin Smith, the organizer of the march against the mosque.
In response to Smith’s claim that “the community is divided, half the town is overtaken by Muslims”, Raza replied: “From our point of view, this group is coming here to spread hatred in the town and fragment the excellent relationships we have here. We would strongly object to the idea that the town is being taken over by Muslims. We live in harmony with the community.”
Smith claimed that Muslim’s in the area are “taking over society” and that some mosques in the UK are responsible for “spreading extremist views”.
Raza refuted this, saying: “We respect out colleagues, our neighbors and our friends. We enjoy a fantastic relationship with all of them. We do not want Britain to have Sharia law. We have faith and confidence in British society and the legal system as it is. We are British Muslims and we want to be British. I would strongly condemn extremism in all shapes and forms.”
Earlier on Saturday about 100 people, including the local Labor MP Ian Austin, joined a Unite Against Fascism counter protest march called ‘Love Dudley, Hate Racism’ from the Town Hall to the existing mosque for lunch.
In May about 150 people turned up for a similar demonstration organized by Britain Frist. In February the English Defense League organized a rally against plans for the mosque, which saw 30 people arrested.
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