UK

English Defence League Brings Parts Of Sheffield To A Standstill In Protest Against City Becoming A 'Paedophile's Paradise'

04/07/2015 17:14 BST | Updated 04/07/2015 17:59 BST

English Defence League protesters reportedly brought part of central Sheffield to a standstill on Saturday during a rally they said was against the city becoming known as a "paedophile's paradise".

According to the Sheffield Telegraph about 200 EDL supporters gathered in the city centre, chanting and waving flags, before marching to South Street Park.

The EDL's website says the demonstration in Sheffield was a "protest against the criminal activities of organised Islamist gangs operating there, and the apparently inadequate police response."

The EDL claimed: "We are expecting a strong turnout, especially from furious locals who resent the fact that their once proud city is unfortunately becoming known as a Paedophile’s Paradise."

In March it was revealed that police ignored reports that more than 200 girls were potential victims of sexual exploitation in Sheffield, mainly between 2007 and 2010.

Hundreds of police officers shadowed the demonstration and a joint counter-protest from Sheffield Unite Against Fascism and One Sheffield Many Cultures.

According to the Sheffield Telegraph, Ian Crossland, Yorkshire regional organiser for the EDL said: “We have come down to highlight the failings in child protection, to protect the victims of sexual exploitation.

“It’s been hidden and swept under the carpet.”

The newspaper suggested that EDL protests cost the taxpayer around £500,000 for policing, and divert resources from other work, something Mr Crossland said was "inevitable".

sheffield unite against fascism

Sheffield Unite Against Fascism said their rally attracted nearly twice as many people

Sheffield Unite Against Fascism posted on their Facebook page that the response to the EDL march was "a proud day for the unity of our multicultural city".

The post went on to read: "Nearly twice as many Sheffielders were out today than the racist EDL managed in their national mobilisation. They will never succeed in dividing us. Unite Against Fascism and defend One Sheffield Many Cultures."

It said the EDL are "a symptom of racism and Islamophobia" and that Sheffield "is a great city because it's a multicultural city".

Meanwhile, Neo-Nazis were massively outnumbered by counter-demonstrators as they staged a protest in central London on Saturday.

A small number of right-wingers took part in a Whitehall demonstration against the Shomrim, a Jewish neighbourhood watch group.

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