Right-wing group to stage anti-Islam protest in Glasgow

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By Cara Sulieman

A RIGHT-WING anti-Muslim group responsible for violent protests in England plan on bringing their hate filled campaign to the streets of Scotland next month.

The English Defence League, which was started by football casuals in Luton, has now spawned its own Scottish branch who plan on making their debut with a protest in Glasgow.

It is feared the Scottish Defence League could be joined by members travelling up by bus or train to help swell their numbers on November 14.

Plans of a rival protest march against racism in Glasgow on the same day have also emerged.

Powerless

Police chiefs – who are also facing the prospect of anti capitalist protests in Edinburgh the same weekend – say they are planning on taking “appropriate steps” to tackle any problems.

But Glasgow City Council leaders say they are powerless to stop the event.

Organisers are getting round bylaws by calling it a ‘static’ event which – unlike traditional marches and rallies – needs no permission from the council to go ahead.

The plan has angered both the Muslim community and politicians who say the group are not welcome – not least because previous protests by the group in England have almost always ended in violence.

The so called Scottish Defence League (SDL) is coordinating a demonstration near the Glasgow Central Mosque on November 14.

“Put up a fight”

Yesterday it already had a growing 185-strong group networked using social media site Facebook.

The page is littered with comments from members from around the UK, showing their support for the cause.

Chris Anderson, one of the administrators of the Scottish Defence League Facebook page, wrote on the group’s discussion boards: “Who is all coming to Glasgow?

“As many needed as possible.

“We need to start putting up a fight against these Islamic extremists in our country.

“Let’s show support to the people of our country.”

“Hatred and distrust”

It is the first time that a protest for the group has been held north of the border.

The SDL organiser – known only by the name Don – said the protest was against divisive communities.

He said: “We are against fragmented communities living side by side, divided by hatred and distrust.

“It’s time to take action because there will be bloodshed if we do nothing.”

But it has already been roundly condemned.

Glasgow MSP Bill Aitken called the protest “divisive” and said that they should demonstrate elsewhere.

“Divisive”

He said: “I think that this is a demonstration that we could well do without. The vast majority of people condemn Muslim extremism, including the Muslim community themselves.

“I really do not see any need for this type of demonstration which is divisive and can in itself stir up trouble. I would hope that they would demonstrate somewhere else if they feel the need.”

Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour Deputy Leader and Glasgow Pollok MSP, said: “The so-called Scottish Defence League are not welcome in Glasgow.

“Our city is proud of all its people and we will not allow racists or fascists to divide us.

“Almost all of their previous demonstrations have ended in violence and we don’t want them here.”

Seig Heil

Members of Scotland’s Muslim community said they would be taking part in an ant racism march the same day to show the extreme views of the SDL are not welcome in Scotland.

Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, said that they were planning an anti-racism protest for the same day in order to show well integration has worked in Scotland.

He said: “In all probability there will be a handful of them Seig Heiling pretty much to an empty street.

“We will be using it as an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and multiculturism that works very well here.

“We are going to bring together politicians, trade unions and faith groups of all different natures, outnumbering the fascist protestors and really show what Scotland’s about.”

Public safety

Glasgow City council confirmed that they are unable to stop the static protest from going ahead.

A spokesman for the council said: “We have no locus over such an event, so our formal involvement is now at an end.”

A spokeswoman from Strathclyde Police said she could not confirm any increase in police presence for “operational reasons” .

But she said: “Public safety is our main concern and we will take the appropriate steps to deal with any situation that arises.”

The first Defence League was formed in Luton after a controversial protest by Muslims at a homecoming parade for soldiers returning from Iraq.

Named The United People of Luton, they joined forces with a Welsh group called Casuals United to form the English Defence League.

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