The home secretary has agreed to a police request to ban the far-right English Defence League from staging a march through one of the UK’s biggest Muslim communities in east London.
Theresa May said she would outlaw any marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs – whether by the EDL or any other groups – for the next 30 days, having “balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected”. She added: “I know that the Metropolitan police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected.”
Police sought the ban after the EDL – which has seen widespread public disorder at earlier rallies – planned to march on 3 September through Tower Hamlets, which has a significant Muslim community, many of Bangladeshi origin.
In a statement the force said it made the request following information that prompted fears that the march could cause “serious public disorder, violence and damage”. It added: “Tactically we believe this is the best option to prevent this.”
Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry warned EDL supporters to stay away. “We have made this decision [to seek the ban] based on specific intelligence and information, and our message is clear: we do not want people coming into the areas to attend these events.”
The march had been vehemently opposed by community leaders, among them the two local MPs and the borough’s mayor, as well as a series of Muslim and Jewish groups.