English Defence League march ends after failed bid to target mosque
Raymond Brown (Cambridge-news)
Members of the English Defence League (EDL) made a failed bid to target a Cambridge mosque after they marched through the city.
The incident came after a relatively peaceful march by the EDL through the city centre Saturday in which scuffles with police broke out along with bottle-throwing.
Officers threw up a cordon around the mosque in Mawson Road and managed to quell the troublemakers. A man was arrested but was allowed to go free after he calmed down.
Police have been heaped with praise for how they handled the two marches on one of the city’s busiest days due to the Big Weekend celebrations on Parker’s Piece.
Officers quelled some of the flashpoints sparked as around 200 EDL marchers were taunted by a small number of counter-protesters from an earlier 1,500 strong demonstration by Unite Against Fascism.
But members of the EDL, who arrived in coaches from across the country to Queens’ Green, also began fighting amongst themselves.
After the march, members of the group attempted to reach the mosque in Mawson Road, off Mill Road.
But they were stopped by dozens of police officers who then threw up a wall of steel to protect the scores of Muslims and their supporters
And at around 3pm, Muslims manning a community stall in Sidney Street were attacked by a group who picked up copies of Korans from the stall and hurled them at the victims – one of whom had his spectacles broken.
More than 650 officers and staff from six forces, including Cambridgeshire, have been praised for handling the relatively peaceful protests.
A total of seven people, all men, have been arrested.
Amjed Sheikh, a Muslim leader, said: “The police have done a great job today. We are a peaceful people and we came to live in Cambridge because the people here accept us no matter what people from the outside who have come here today say.”
Richard Howitt MEP, who was a keynote speaker at the start of the counter-protest, praised police and described the emotional scenes in Mill Road when more than 1,000 anti-EDL protesters marched along the street.
He said: “I would say that many of the counter-protesters stayed around Petersfield thinking to protect the mosque but when all is said and done it was really the police who did a fantastic job throughout the day.
“As we all walked along Mill Road, shopkeepers were all standing outside their shops handing out samosas and drinks. I had a tear in my eye.”
Insp Robin Sissons said: “Cambridge residents are familiar with and generally supportive of protest activity and this was evident on Saturday.
“Their tolerance combined with the joint operation by police and partner agencies meant the protests were largely peaceful with only minor disorder and some minor disruption to residents, visitors and businesses in the city.
“The well-established community and partnership-based relationships were also particularly beneficial in planning for, and during, the operation.
“It was heartening to hear that members of the community who reported tension before the protests, then praised the tone and nature of the policing operation after it was complete.”
A 36-year-old man from Norwich arrested for being drunk and disorderly was released with no further action taken.
A 48-year-old man from Colchester has been charged with a public order offence and assaulting a police officer and has been given conditional bail to appear at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (July 14).
A 27-year-old man from Ely arrested on suspicion of a public order offence was released with no further action taken against him.
An 18-year-old man from Peterborough was charged with a public order offence and was given conditional bail to appear before Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
A 51-year-old man from Luton has been charged with a public order offence and is due to appear at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on July 25.
A 30-year-old man from Gillingham, Kent, arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and was issued with a fixed penalty notice and released.
A 28-year-old man from Cambridge has been charged with a public order offence and is due to appear at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Forces assisting with the operation were Warwickshire Constabulary, Essex Police, Ministry of Defence, City of London Police, Suffolk Constabulary and Leicestershire Constabulary.
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