Protesters clash with British police


A far-right group known for staging violent protests against what it calls the spread of Islam in Britain clashed with police on Saturday in a northern English city.

Four people were arrested and a police officer had to be hospitalised.

Nearly 1400 police officers, including some in riot gear and on horseback, were called to contain about 1000 activists from the English Defence League who gathered in Leicester for a demonstration.
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Police said missiles were thrown at them and one officer was taken to hospital. Some protesters – many of them young men – broke away from the designated protest area at one point to confront gangs of local youths.

Supporters of the English Defence League, a right-wing group set up last year, began travelling around the country demonstrating against what they call the spread of sharia, or Islamic law, in England last summer.

The group insists it is peaceful, but critics say it is racist and tends to stir up unrest. On Saturday, about 700 members of a leftist group called Unite Against Fascism called a counter-demonstration nearby.

The two opposing groups had clashed during similar rallies last year in northern English cities such as Leeds and Manchester.

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