'Ban this far-Right rally': Police move to halt English Defence League march in Bradford over riot fears

A chief constable is seeking emergency powers to ban the far-Right English Defence League from marching through a city's Muslim neighbourhood, amid fears it could provoke widespread violence.

Up to 10,000 EDL supporters are expected to descend on Bradford over the bank holiday weekend in what is claimed will be a rally against Islamic extremism.
But residents fear the provocative march could cause a repeat of the 2001 race riots.

Then, the West Yorkshire city suffered violent clashes between white and Asian youths after a demonstration by the National Front.

Police now face the prospect of clashes between the EDL and the Left-wing Unite against Fascism group, which plans a counter-protest in Bradford on the same day, as well as outraged local Muslims.

Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of the West Yorkshire force, has asked Home Secretary Theresa May for permission for a ban on all marches in the city for three days from Saturday, August 28.

In a statement explaining his request, Sir Norman issued a public plea to locals to support the police and 'avoid confrontation'.
But he also issued a stern warning that officers would not allow violent disorder.
The powers, granted under the 1986 Public Order Act, do not stop all protests - they are permitted as long as demonstrators do not attempt to march.

Sir Norman said: 'We will continue to try to talk to all those who plan to demonstrate and advise anyone intent on causing trouble to stay away.'

It is only the second time in the past three years that a police force has requested the powers. It would be unusual for Mrs May to refuse the request, and a decision is expected later this week.

A similar order was approved by then Home Secretary Alan Johnson for a proposed EDL march in Luton in August last year.

The EDL's spokesman, Guramit Singh, denied the organisation intended violence. He said: 'We don't want ugly scenes at all.

We are coming for a peaceful demonstration.'
But critics have drawn comparisons between the rise of the EDL and that of 1930s fascism led by Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts.

The group was formed in Luton last year, in response to protests by Islamic radicals when troops returned home from Iraq.

Since then it has staged a number of rallies, many of which have ended in violence. Last month there were clashes between police and protesters at a demonstration in Dudley, the second in the West Midlands town this year.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'We will carefully consider any application to ban a march that comes forward from Bradford.'


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