Anti-Islamists target Palestinian rally in central London

Fury as Muslim meeting is switched to Pall Mall while right-wingers protest in Trafalgar Square

The right-wing group behind a series of anti-Islamist protests which have ended in running street battles is planning to demonstrate today in London's Trafalgar Square.

A pro-Palestinian rally scheduled several months ago has been switched to neighbouring Pall Mall, much to the anger of the organisers. They blamed the decision on the English Defence League (EDL) and other right-wing groups.

Raza Kazim, spokesman for the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "At the last minute after months of negotiation, the Greater London Authority told us we are not allowed to go ahead with the rally in Trafalgar Square. Instead of standing up to threats they have capitulated. A place that was to be used to raise voices against fascism is now being given over to the very bigots we are supposed to be standing against."

Scotland Yard said it was powerless to prevent the protest provided it remained a "static demonstration".

The details emerged as Communities Secretary John Denham warned of a surge in fascist extremism designed to provoke violence on Britain's streets. He said the tactics employed were the same as those used by Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists blackshirt campaigns in the 1930s.

"I think that the EDL and other organisations are not large numbers of people. They clearly, though, have among them people who know what they're doing," he said. "The tactic of trying to provoke a response in the hope of causing wider violence and mayhem is long established on the far-right and among extremist groups.

"You could go back to the 1930s if you wanted to – Cable Street and all of those types of things," he said, referring to the day in 1936 when violence broke out as Mosley tried to lead a column into the heavily Jewish district of Whitechapel in London's East End. Mr Denham later insisted the situation was not as bad as the 1930s but warned the threat be taken seriously before it escalated.

The central London demonstration follows clashes between protesters, anti-fascist groups and police in Luton, Birmingham and north London.

The EDL, originally formed by football supporters in Luton, claims to be a non-violent group campaigning against Muslim fundamentalism but is alleged to have links to former hooligan networks and known British National Party agitators. It was formed in March in reaction to barracking by Muslim protesters at soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment parading through Luton on their return from Iraq. On Friday, 500 riot officers broke up a crowd of 2,000 Muslim youths who gathered to defend Harrow central mosque from a planned protest by the EDL-affiliated group Stop the Islamisation of Europe. Police made 10 arrests as the two groups attempted to confront each other.

Birmingham city centre has twice seen running battles between the EDL and the campaign group Unite Against Fascism, and unofficial marches have been temporarily banned from Luton town centre following violence.

The EDL's spokesman, a 28-year-old carpenter from Luton who uses the name Tommy Robinson, said the group was quickly gathering nationwide support through social networking sites. He stressed they are a non-violent organisation aiming to protest against Islamic fundamentalism in the UK. BNP leader Nick Griffin has distanced his party from the group. Despite this, anti-fascist campaigners say some of EDL's key organisers have been BNP members.

Gerry Gable of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight said: "We're faced with an upsurge in fascist groups, and it's a real problem. This could do more damage to community relations than anything since the Oldham and Bradford riots of 2001 and 2002."

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal