Police officers surround EDL demonstrators in Albert Square on March 2
Elham Asaad Buaras
Fifteen people were arrested on March 2 during a rally by the far right anti-Muslim group the English Defence League (EDL).
About 700 EDL demonstrators gathered in Albert Square, Manchester, with about 350 people taking part in a counter protest.
Hundreds of officers from Greater Manchester Police penned in the demonstrators as the left wing Unite against Fascism (UaF) held a counter demonstration.
Two people were arrested over an incident when bottles and coins were thrown at a UAF protester who unfurled a Nazi Scum banner and a woman was arrested for climbing onto a police van.
Onlookers reported seeing several fights breaking out between different factions of the EDL, including a fight at Victoria train station that had to be broken up by police and saw a further four people arrested.
Chief Supt John O’Hare said: “I understand that these events are emotive and polarise the views of individuals but we must respect everyone’s right to a legal and peaceful protest.”
Labour Councillor Daniel Gillard told the crowd, “If Muslims are being targeted by the EDL then we are all being targeted.”
Local union banners included the Unison Women’s Group and the NUT. The PCS union band filled the streets with sound.
Iqbal Hussein came with 20 people from Medina mosque in Levenshulme, south Manchester. He said, “We are for diversity, we want a peaceful Manchester.”