An English Defence League (EDL) protest march ended with 15 arrests yesterday after members of the far-right group clashed with local residents outside a Whitechapel mosque.
The protest outside Barking Town Hall, allegedly held because now-banned extremist group Muslims Against Crusades disrupted a local regiment march in Barking in 2010, was described by opposition group Unite Against Fascism as having a 'miserable turnout'. EDL supporters then travelled to Whitechapel, where the Guardian reported they started drinking in a pub opposite the East London Mosque before shouting anti-Islam abuse. Police arrested 15 people but all were later released without charge. One man was injured.
The EDL appear to be on a crusade to prove themselves every bit as tiresomely stupid and offensive as their poppy-burning Islamic opposition group, recently burdening FIFA with their opinions over the football association's refusal to allow the England team to wear poppies on their team shirts. A spokesman for anti-EDL campaign group Hope Not Hate pointed out that it was 'a little hypocritical of the EDL to be leading this protest given that their leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon is a convicted football hooligan.' Last year, four men were jailed for an attack on Redbridge Islamic Centre.
Tower Hamlets residents and police turned out in force last year to prevent an EDL protest entering the borough while people in Barking and Dagenham joined an anti-EDL protest last March. Councillor Darren Rodwell said yesterday that he wished the EDL would 'stop shipping themselves into Barking and Dagenham' because local people hated them for trying to divide the community. MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, urged the local community not to rise to provocation.