EDL confirm plans for third city march
Anti-Muslim group The English Defence League has confirmed its plans to march in Peterborough.
The controversial group, known as the EDL, will hold its protest in the city on Saturday, October 21.
It is not the first time the organisation has held protests in the city, with thousands of people attending marches in the past.
The timings and the route of the event have not yet been finalised. In the past marches have taken place starting at Town Bridge to the square on Lower Bridge Street outside the Magistrates’ Court.
An EDL spokesman said they had chosen to hold their regional protest in Peterborough for four reasons .
They said they were protesting against sexual grooming of girls by Muslim men, following a number of trials across the country - including three in Peterborough. The last trial in the city concluded in April 2015.
The group is also calling for prosecutions to take place for offences of female genital mutilation (FGM) after dozens of girls and women were identified as victims in the city.
The march will also be protesting following attacks in Yaxley. In one incident, a youth was injured in an attack in July involving 30 men. The EDL claimed the attacks were carried out by Muslims on ‘English lads,’ and they would ‘demand freedom from bullying for English lads on English streets.’
Cambridgeshire police said the Yaxley attack was not being treated as a hate crime.
The EDL will also protest for more to be done to prevent terrorist attacks in the UK.
A number of people have already raised their opposition to the march, including Abdul Choudhuri, chairman of the Faizan e Madinah Mosque in Gladstone Street, who said the EDL were ‘not welcome in Peterborough’.
He said the group’s aim was ‘to destroy the peace and harmonious relationship among all communities.’
However, a spokesman for the EDL said: “In our democratic society street peaceful protests like ours are a legitimate way to project a message.
“We make no apology for using all peaceful and legitimate avenues within our reach.”
A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “Planning is underway to ensure an appropriate and measured police response that maintains public safety. We are also working closely with the Peterborough City Council, community representatives and other partners in Peterborough to ensure local people, traders, businesses and the city centre are supported and kept informed in the run-up to the event and on the day.”
A council spokesman said they were working with police to cover the event.
The group has held two large rallies in the city in the past. The first one was held in 2010, when around 1,200 EDL supporters marched. There was a counter protest with more than 200 people attending. Around 1,000 police officers were working in the city in an operation that cost £750,000 - with only a small number of arrests.
The second demonstration was held in 2014, when more than 300 members of the EDL came to the city. There was a counter protest with around 100 people taking part. More than 600 police officers were in the city to keep the peace, and again there was a small number of arrests.