Far right extremists were condemned last night over their protests in a North city centre over a planned Islamic school and cultural centre.
Supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) staged a demonstration outside the former Bishop’s Palace in Benwell, Newcastle, where the new centre will be. More than 100 people, including one dressed as Osama Bin Laden, marched with St George flags from the Fox and Hounds pub on West Road to the premises on Benwell Lane, where they began to chant “scum” and “no surrender to the Taliban”.
Coun Nick Forbes, Newcastle’s Labour leader, said: “They should have better things to do with their time on a Saturday morning than marching around wearing stupid costumes and chanting. Newcastle is a very diverse city and communities have to live alongside each other.”
Organiser of the EDL protest, unemployed Alan Spence, 47, of Benwell, claimed that locals did not want the Islamic school and culture centre in the area.
A pig’s head was recently hung on the railings outside the building, the local BNP are campaigning against the centre, and now the EDL are protesting against it too. You might be inclined to suspect that these events are connected.
Certainly the links between the BNP and the EDL are quite plain here. Alan Spence, the organiser of the EDL demonstration, was the BNP’s parliamentary candidate in Newcastle upon Tyne East in this year’s general election and also stood for the party in one of the city’s council seats.