A group of English Defence League (EDL) members demonstrated at the halal meat counter in Asda, Rochdale, on Saturday (14 January).
Rochdale Online understands that between 15 and 20 men arrived at the store, on Dane Street, at around 3.30pm but were swiftly moved on by the police and no arrests were made.
Town centre business owner, Paul Turner-Mitchell, was doing his shopping when he saw the group. Speaking to Rochdale Online, he said: “I turned up at Asda at about 3.30pm on Saturday and there were two police officers outside Asda and a couple of Asda security guards, I thought it seemed strange but then I didn’t give it another thought and went about my shopping.
“I had two of my children with me and we were near the milk section and by the halal meat section there was a big group of men and then more police officers turned up. The police were there very quickly and the police moved them on and it was business as usual.
“When I finished my shopping and had paid, the police were still outside so I asked them what was going on and they said they were members of the EDL and they had been dispersed into the town centre where there were extra police.”
Asked how many protesters were there, Mr Turner-Mitchell said: “It is hard to put an exact number on it. I didn’t want to stand and watch. I’d say around 15-20. It was really bizarre, I was going about my day-to-day business and I didn’t expect to see it.”
Other shoppers posted about the demonstration on Twitter. Mohammed Shafiq posted: “The fascist EDL have turned up at Rochdale Asda and are demonstrating.”
A spokesperson for Asda said: “We were surprised at the protest because we cater for everyone, from the new Butcher’s Selection display in aisle 31 to the halal concession on the back wall – both have been successful since their launches last year.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “At about 8.00am on Saturday 14 January 2012, police were made aware of plans by members of the English Defence League to hold a protest at the Asda superstore in Rochdale. The protest passed peacefully and no arrests were made.”