Saturday, 25 September 2010


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Police fear protestors plan to attack Leicester mosque
Police fear protesters plan to attack a city mosque before marching into the heart of Leicester's Muslim community.
Concerns were voiced by Chief Constable Simon Cole in a report to Leicester City Council about the planned march by the English Defence League on October 9.
The Chief Constable said that an intelligence and threat assessment indicated a "major threat" to public order.
His report said: "Intelligence dated September 8, 2010, indicated that the EDL intend to come to Leicester and attack a mosque before marching into the Highfields area, which represents the highest resident population of the Muslim community.
"This reflects previous intentions of EDL processions, such as that within Leicester, where actions were targeted to cause disruption to the Muslim community by provoking serious public disorder."
Leicester City Cabinet yesterday agreed to apply to the Home Office to ban the planned procession under the Public Order Act 1986.
However, the EDL, in a statement, rejected the police claims.
EDL event organiser Guramit Singh said: "We are coming to Leicester to peacefully demonstrate and we denounce attacks on any mosques.
We are here to fight militant Islam, not moderate Islam. The intelligence provided by the police is incorrect."
The EDL submitted an application to march through the city to police this week. United Against Fascism has applied to hold a counter-demonstration on the same day.
Up to 5,000 people could take part in the rival protests.
If the Home Office agrees to ban the EDL march, the group could still hold a static protest, which the authorities would be powerless to prevent taking place.
Muslim groups said they were concerned by the police intelligence reports.
Suleman Nagdi, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: "An attack on a place of worship is an attack on us all, the relationship and resilience among Leicester's faith communities is very strong and we are confident that this will not break our unity."
Ibrahim Mogra, associate Imam at Evington Muslim Centre, said: "The news of a planned attack is very worrying. There have been a number of mosques up and down the country that have suffered attacks at the hands of far-right groups. Everything possible needs to be done to prevent that."
Speaking after the meeting, city council leader Veejay Patel said the council was determined to secure a ban on the march.
He said: "The evidence we are now able to put to the Home Secretary shows overwhelmingly that this march will bring massive disruption – and possibly violence – to Leicester, and therefore it should not be allowed to take place."
The city's three MPs, who were present at yesterday's meeting, said in a joint statement: "The EDL cannot and will not affect Leicester's long and proud history of community cohesion which the city council, voluntary, community and faith groups, local public services and businesses have all worked hard to build and maintain."
After the meeting, Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said: "I have directly contacted the Home Secretary Theresa May to emphasise the strength of feeling here in our city. All three Leicester MPs will be lobbying her directly on this issue."
Leicester West MP Liz Kendall said: "It is a massive decision to attempt to ban a group's right to protest, but it's the only option available."
In a report on the proposed English Defence League march in Thursday's Leicester Mercury, we reported that campaign group Hope Not Hate was planning a counter demonstration.
We have been asked to point out that Hope Not Hate is, in fact, hoping to hold a peace vigil the night before the proposed EDL protest and is not planning a counter demonstration.
It is also involved in plans for a celebration of the city, which is scheduled to take place a day after the EDL event on Saturday, October 9. We are happy to clarify the situation.

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