Two English Defence League protesters were arrested after a protest in Durham over plans to build a multi-faith educational family centre, by a Muslim businessman.
Durham Police told The Huffington Post UK that around 200 members attended the protest over the controversial development in the former pit village of Shotton Colliery, County Durham.
Superintendent Helen McMillan leading the police operation said: “We can confirm that two men have been arrested for breach of bail conditions following a protest in Shotton Colliery this afternoon.
An onlooker told the Sunday Sun that fireworks were thrown down the street during the protest, and "a woman emerged from a house near the village green, where the EDL members were based, to confront the protesters."
There has been considerable anger in the village over plans to convert a disused pub, the Melrose Arms, into what was originally conceived as a mosque.
But Durham businessman Kaiser Choudry, of the Al-Hayat Foundation, has told the local press that plans for the mosque had been withdrawn and the plan was now to turn the pub into a multi-faith education centre for children and families, to serve around a dozen local Muslim families, but also other faiths.
Choudry told the Northern Echo: "I have been in the village for 25 years and the community has been supporting me. I want to give something back to the community.”
“The centre is not just for the Muslim community. – we will be inviting all residents to use the facilities.”
Choudry’s nephew, Imran Nadeem, 38, who works in the village’s Milco Store, told the Hartlepool Echo they had left the area during the demo, fearing for their safety: “We are very scared. There has been a Muslim presence in Shotton for at least the last 23 years, there are about five or six families, and we have been a very peaceful community."
An EDL spokesman posted on the group's official Facebook page: "Regardless of what people think, the EDL is still strong and active.
"Today in the north east of England, the EDL.. visited the mining town of Shotton, where over 300 patriots attended in freezing weather to the great applause of the locals."
Superintendent McMillan said the EDL protest had been mainly peaceful apart from the two arrests: “Although Durham Constabulary respects the rights of people to take part in peaceful protest we will ensure that law and order is maintained at all times.
"We had effective resources in place to ensure the event proceeded peacefully for the safety of everyone: participants, bystanders, local businesses and local residents”
A spokesman told The Huffington Post UK that the two arrested were both from the Edinburgh area, and were aged 39 and 32. They were arrested for being in breach of police bail set by the Metropolitan Police and after being interviewed were released to new bail dates.
The far-right group has also held vigils outside Bedford Prison, where EDL founder Stephen Lennon is in prison for using a false passport. He had previously been arrested for assault and public order offences.
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