Violence erupts at Nottingham anti-Islam demo

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The Independent Online

Eleven men have been arrested during violent skirmishes at a demonstration by the English Defence League.



A 29-year-old WPC was taken to hospital after she suffered an arm injury while policing a cordon at the protest in Nottingham city centre.

All of those arrested during the march by 500 members of the EDL were held for public order offences and no-one was seriously injured, said Nottinghamshire Police.

One of those detained needed hospital treatment after he kicked a police dog, which retaliated and bit him.

Police leave was cancelled and Nottinghamshire Police drafted more than 700 officers, many from outside forces, in a £1 million security operation to prevent violence during the rally outside Nottingham Castle.

Many members of the far-right group, which says it stands against Islamic extremism, had their faces covered with scarves and hooded tops as they chanted: "We want our country back."

The crowd also sang the National Anthem and football-style chants before gathering next to the city's famous statue of Robin Hood, which had been covered with chip-board to prevent it getting damaged. Other protesters had Union Jacks and St George's flags which they either waved or wrapped around their shoulders, while some held placards which read: "Protect Women, No To Sharia" and "No Surrender".

Extra mounted officers and dog sections were called in to contain members of the EDL, some of whom had been drinking from early in the morning. A police officer barked instructions at the crowd from a helicopter circling overhead, while constables filmed suspected agitators with video cameras.

Councillor Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council, praised the force for its operation, which saw it dealing with a nearby counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism. He said: "Anybody watching the EDL could see right from the start that any idea that they were here for a peaceful demonstration was complete nonsense. They were here for a fight and to provoke a fight."

He added: "I am sure their political views are as they state but I am equally sure that they are a pretext for a fight more than anything else."