Rival demonstrations have been taking place in London after the killing of a British Soldier. The British National Party held a demonstration in Westminster. Unite Against Facism took part in a counter protest outside the Houses of Parliament. VoR's Juliet Spare reports. (VIDEO)
The Metroplotan Police banned the British National Party from marching near the scene of soldier Lee Rigby’s killing in Woolwich, London amid fears of violent clashes with anti-fascist groups. In London, the BNP supporters staged a standoff while the Unite Against Fascism group were kept apart by the police, who have arrested 58 people in a series of scuffles. Far-right groups and their opponents scuffled in London on Saturday as protesters attacking Islam gathered in cities and towns all over Britain.
The English Defence League held rallies in Sheffield, Cambridge and Colchester.
The protests were triggered by the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week by two men who claimed to be acting in the name of Islam. The English Defence League held a series of "walks of silence" up and down the country in memory of Fusilier Lee Rigby. British National Party’s leader, Nick Griffin: "A lot of our people who wanted to come are being turned away by the police, people have been attacked by the far-leftist mob, older people haven’t been able to walk the distance, since we couldn’t get cars in; so we have lost quite a few people. Nevertheless, I am satisfied that we have made a point, and have obviously attracted a lot of media attention, and I think that the reason we are here today will come across."
Nick Griffin: "The UAF is sponsored by various trade unions, they have a lot of money to bus students in, they are actually sponsored by David Cameron, the leader of this country”.
Anti-BNP protester: “We actually came with the Quakers and were holding a silent vigil against the BNP and against racism in general, and about embracing multi-culturalism. We have stayed behind now because the police are lining up and it looks like it might potentially get a bit messy, and we wanted to stay back and be friendly with people and keep an eye on what’s happening.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was in the Unite against Fascism demonstration: “I can’t believe the police are going to use their powers to disperse with force what is an entirely peaceful anti-BNP protest. If the police command had any sense, they would allow the protest to continue until it peters out. If the police start charging the crowd, that’s when there are going to be problems.
It’s very bad policing. I’m here to show my opposition to the BNP and their racism, anti-Muslim prejudice, their hostility towards immigrant people. They are very divisive. They are trying to stir up racial and religious hatred, which is fundamentally wrong. I want to live in a society where all are equal and all accepted. The BNP needs to be challenged. It was only because people failed to challenge Nazism in the early days that Hitler rose to power. I don’t see Nick Griffin as a future fuhrer, much as he’d like to be, but the BNP needs to be stopped.”
Unite Against Fascism protester Zeinat Bazzarin: “They wanted to pass through and they started crushing us, they took my friend away, who didn’t do anything. He wasn’t being violent or anything. They just grabbed him and arrested him. They are going to take him to the police station now. This is completely unfair: we were not doing anything wrong. Yet the police started brutalizing us. My arm really hurts right now. The police wanted to pass through and the people didn’t let them. The thing is, there is so little space over there in that corner, nobody could move anywhere, and they knew they were crushing us, the police, they didn’t back off. My friend was right in front of me and they just grabbed him. Probably, he just caught their attention.”