The right-wing English Defence League has cancelled its planned demonstration in Bolton
The group said it took the decision because a Hindu religious festival is due to be held there on the same day, March 6. It also claimed to have received information that 'far-left groups were planning to attack Hindus whilst dressed in EDL clothing'.
In a statement on its website however, the EDL said it would rearrange a demonstration in the town in 'due course'. It warned that 'no street, town or city was off-limits'.
The announcement of the Bolton rally followed ugly scenes in Manchester in October. The group's protestors made Nazi salutes and sang patriotic songs during a tense stand-off with United Against Fascism (UAF) around Piccadilly Gardens and Ancoats. It resulted in 44 arrests and 10 injuries as sticks and bottles were thrown when riot police and police on horseback intervened.
In the statement on Bolton, the EDL said: “This decision was taken in light of the fact that a Hindu religious festival is scheduled for the same day, at the same time and in the same location as our planned demonstration. Due to the respect we have for the peace-loving Hindu community, we deemed it only right and proper that we cancel our own plans to ensure their safety. We hope that the action we have taken will be taken as further proof that we stand only against Muslim extremists. No other decent, honest, peaceful person or group has anything to fear from the EDL.”
The group, which describes itself as a peaceful, non-political protest group campaigning against ‘militant Islam’, had contacted police informally by telephone about staging a demonstration in Victoria Square. A Fair Trade event is also planned for the town centre on the same day.
The announcement of the planned protest was greeted with widespread condemnation from Bolton MPs and religious groups.
Manchester Evening News