Bungling David Cameron was last night accused of “stoking the fires” of race hate just hours before a thuggish far right march.
The Prime Minister pledged to make Britain “a lot less” tolerant towards Islamic extremists who whip up hatred against the West. But the Tory leader was slammed by religious leaders for “vilifying” Muslims and boosting support for the far-right English Defence League who saw thousands of supporters gather for a hate-filled rally yesterday in Luton, Beds.
Tensions simmered as around 3,000 EDL members marched through the town, which was largely boarded up and barricaded by police for the event. Around 1,000 officers from 14 different forces monitored the protest in an operation that cost more than £800,000. There were skirmishes during the march, 19 people were treated for injuries and police said eight people werearrested, “mostly for possession of offensive weapons and assault”.
EDL leader Stephen Lennon, 26, told the Daily Star Sunday: “It is no coincidence Cameron made this speech the day the EDL held its biggest-ever march. We are a phenomenon and we have support in every town and city. For the past two years we have been highlighting the evils of militant Islam and the effect it has on our country. And we are getting more support. Cameron’s seen this tide turning against these extremists living in our towns and has jumped on the bandwagon. But he’s a politician and is all talk. He doesn’t care. And he is wrong. Multi- culturalism does work in this country. Christians, blacks, Polish, Jews, Sikhs, and people from every other background in the world live in harmony here. It’s those who follow militant Islam that cannot live side by side with us.”
Later Sabby Dhalu, from Muslim pressure group One Society Many Cultures, slammed Mr Cameron saying: “Vilifying Muslim communities on the day when they are being targeted by the EDL in Luton could not be more grotesque.”
Among the crowd, chants of: “We want our country back”, “Muslim bombers off our streets” and “No surrender to the Taliban” rang out along the parade route. One protester calling himself Dave, from Wolverhampton, said: “We want these Islam extremists and terrorists out. You can take your mosques and f**k off.”
The parade was led by 30 women EDL members in a bid to show people the group is not just made up of thugs.
Just 200 yards away from the EDL protests, local Muslims demonstrated against the far-right group. Imran Khan, 26, said: “If police weren’t here and the EDL came on to our streets we’d join together and fight them. And EDL blood will be spilled.”
Hundreds of United Against Fascism members also staged a protest. Sadiq Khan, 40, Shadow Justice Secretary, said ahead of the Prime Minister’s speech in Munich that he was “writing propaganda for the EDL”.
But Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi, 39, hit back and said: “For Sadiq Khan to smear the Prime Minister as a right-wing extremist is outrageous and irresponsible.”