Earlier today a violent confrontation broke out between anti-jihad groups and “anti-fascists” in the city center of Birmingham in the English Midlands. At least thirty-three people were arrested, and based on the photos in The Daily Mail, there were also some injuries.
Two anti-jihad groups known as Casuals United and the English Defence League were involved. Both of them are said to draw their strength from existing groups of football supporters.
The EDL has been at pains to repudiate any association with the BNP, and declares a strong support for Israel, but that hasn’t stopped the “anti-fascists” from conflating it with the BNP and neo-Nazis.
Here’s the news video from the BBC:
And a report from the Sunday Mercury:
Below is the text of the BBC news report:
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Arrests at anti-Islamic protest
Police in Birmingham have arrested 33 people during protests by anti-fascists and a group demonstrating against Islamic fundamentalism.
One protest involved two groups known as Casuals United and the English Defence League, which police said were made up of local football fans.
Another counter-protest in the city centre was organised by Unite Against Fascism, West Midlands Police said.
Two people were injured in the disturbances which began at 1800 BST.
Police said there were “sporadic incidents of disturbance in the city centre” with the majority of the arrests being for disorder.
There was one report of criminal damage to a vehicle, but more were expected. No police officers were hurt.
Resident Gary Nichols witnessed the disturbances from his city centre flat and said he was unable to go outside for about two and a half hours.
“It was very disheartening to see,” he told the BBC.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it before in the three years I’ve lived here.
“It started off with a group of white guys who were chanting ‘England, England’. I thought they were just football fans, but then a larger group of black and Asian people turned up and it all kicked off.
“You had people burning the Union flag. People were being kicked — some of them weren’t anything to do with the protests.
“It all seemed to be very systematic — groups were arriving in cars and getting involved in the violence.
“It really wasn’t nice to see and I hope I never see it again.”
Speaking before Saturday’s demonstrations, on the West Midlands Police website, Superintendent Matt Ward said there had been a similar protest against Islamic fundamentalism last month, involving 70 to 90 people.
He said July’s protest had been “vocal” but peaceful.
Asked about the latest demonstrations, Supt Ward said the police wanted to balance the rights of protesters with retailers and shoppers who wanted to use the city centre for their normal business.
I hope to have a more detailed report tomorrow as word trickles in from my UK contacts.
Hat tip: Gaia. Thanks to Vlad Tepes for Youtubing the BBC video.