Sky Tyne and Wear reports that two people have been charged with being drunken and disorderly following protests at the site of a newly approved mosque in Sunderland. Police initially arrested thirteen people.
From the report:
“Police made 13 arrests when a protest at the site of a recently-approved new mosque turned violent.
“Around 200 people were involved in the demonstration on St Mark's Road, which saw members of far-right groups including the English Defence League clashing with anti-fascists and members of the Muslim community.
“Two men both aged 32 have since been charged with being drunk and disorderly.
“Eight men arrested on suspicion of public order offences and another three arrested on suspicion of affray have been bailed pending further enquires.
The National Front has been at the fore of organising protests against the proposed mosque, having already staged one protest in August. The newspaper claims that “The National Front has pledged to make the demonstrations a monthly fixture, although supporters were asked not the bring NF flags to the event on pain of being removed by far-right organisers who said they would create the wrong impression.”
“A number of protesters among the far-right groups were not from Sunderland, with some travelling from Bradford and Edinburgh.
“The application by the Pakistan Islamic Centre attracted almost 700 letters of objection and a petition of more than 1,400 signatures.”
One person who witnessed the protest, John Scratcher blogging for Spark Sunderland stated that “From what I could see…very few of the protesters were actually from the Millfield area and the residents I spoke to did not appear to care whether a mosque was built or not. They were much more concerned about the fireworks outside their houses. Half of the crowds looked like they had just turned up for a bit of a fight.”
As the Sunderland Echo reported in August, many of the letters protesting against the application were from people who did not live in the locality. At the time when the plans for the mosque were approved, council leader Paul Watson said that the decision to approve the plans was based on facts and not on “what may or may not happen or the fears people have.”
Needless to say, this hasn't stopped the far right exploiting the issue to propagate their vile anti-Muslim activities, or adopting protests for their own purposes. This was demonstrated last month too when the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin, attempted to hijack a protest against a Muslim community centre in Leicester.
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