Fascist group plans ‘static’ rally to beat parade ban

Police surround SDL protesters at a previous city protest. Councillors had hoped to avoid similar scenes by banning the latest march
Police surround SDL protesters at a previous city protest. Councillors had hoped to avoid similar scenes by banning the latest march
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RIGHT-WING extremists banned from marching through Edinburgh are planning to stage a “static” demonstration in the Capital instead.

And today anti-fascist campaigners called for a guarantee that the protest by the Scottish Defence League would be “robustly” policed.

Councillors voted last week to refuse permission for the SDL to hold a march by around 200 people on September 10, fearing it could be a flashpoint for violence.

But a post on the Facebook page of the English Defence League has announced plans to go ahead with an alternative protest on the same date – the day before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US.

Today, campaign group United Against Fascism said the SDL had no support in Edinburgh and planned to bus supporters in from the north of England.

UAF spokesman Luke Henderson said: “Despite enormous public opposition, including a wave of complaints to the council, it seems that the SDL still do not understand Edinburgh does not want their violent racism.”

The UAF has an application in for its own march on September 10 along a route which would pass the expected place of the SDL demo in Regent Road.

But Mr Henderson said: “We want the police to give a public assurance the SDL will be dealt with robustly. If the police say that, we will not try to go past it, we will just have a rally, probably in town.”

The city council’s licensing committee voted unanimously last week to refuse permission for the SDL march. Objectors highlighted the group’s “racist and homophobic” views, and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the proposed march could pose a threat to public safety.

A protest by the SDL in Edinburgh in February last year led to five arrests.

Following the meeting’s decision, a post by the EDL said: “They have banned the SDL march but they will not ban our voice. On the 10th of September the SDL shall stage a static demo in Edinburgh. There shall be in the region of 4000 UAF and other left wing scum on the streets against us!

“The SDL do not know the word outnumbered. Where shall you be on the 10th, will you stand your ground with us, will you be spartans? Support us in Edinburgh, support your nation, support your Britain.”

A Lothian and Borders police spokeswoman said: “The guiding principle is that we will facilitate peaceful and lawful events. We would encourage organisers of any such events and demonstrations to liaise with us in order to preserve public safety and minimise disruption.”

n Unite Against Fascism is to hold a public meeting tomorrow night to launch Edinburgh United Against Racism. It takes place at 7pm in Lecture Theatre 175 of Edinburgh University’s Old College, South Bridge. Speakers will include Martin Smith, national secretary of Love Music Hate Racism, and human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com