Police have arrested 15 people after violence between far-right activists and local youths outside a mosque in east London.
Witnesses said the clash near the East London Mosque in Whitechapel erupted after supporters of the English Defence League chanted anti-Muslim slogans. Scotland Yard said one man was injured and taken to hospital with “non life-threatening injuries”.
“The incident involved several hundred people,” a police spokesman said. “Bottles and other items were thrown.” He said all those arrested were later released. “The bulk of them were local kids,” he added.
Police believe the far-right activists may have travelled to Whitechapel after attending an earlier demonstration staged by the English Defence League in Barking.
A member of staff at the Indo, a pub opposite the mosque, said the incident began when a gang of “hooligans” entered the bar and started drinking heavily. “They ordered lots of drinks, then suddenly went into the kitchen and grabbed some knives,” he said, requesting to remain anonymous. “Then they went outside and were shouting something like ‘Allah is a paedo’.” There was no damage to the pub, he said.
A Whitechapel resident, who did not wish to be identified, said he arrived as police were trying to control the incident. “I saw the aftermath of it really, it was all quite spirited. There were up to 80 youths shouting ‘Allahu akbar [God is great], and police were pushing them around a bit.”
See also “Barking demo: English Defence League riot and try to attack mosque”, EDL News, 14 January 2012
Update: See photos by Khalid Beshi-naam Amar at Demotix.
Update 2: See also “EDL News names instigator of east London violence”, EDL News, 15 January 2012