Anti-Islam and counter protesters lock horns ahead of Lincoln demo

Representatives from the Lincolnshire English Defence League division and opposing campaigners are appealing to people in Lincoln for very different reasons ahead of a planned protest in the city on Saturday, July 25.

The anti-Islam demo, which will begin in the Cornhill area at 1pm, is expected to attract EDL supporters from across the county and beyond, sparked by the development of the Lincoln’s first mosque.

Supporters at the anti-mosque protest in 2014. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Supporters at the anti-mosque protest in 2014. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

An English Defence League Lincolnshire Division spokesperson said: “The demo this Saturday is all about awareness. It’s about looking at other places where mosques have been built and seeing what comes with them like extremism and grooming gangs.

“We will have a number of guest speakers on Cornhill in Lincoln and we hope that people will stop and listen to what we have to say.

“Although we know the demos can be intimidating and there are a few misconceptions about the trouble they bring, we’re saying to people ‘don’t stay away’.

“If you look at the stats over the last 18 months or so, the very few arrests that there have been at protests have just been from the odd idiot or Unite Against Fascism groups.

“To those looking at the event as an excuse to cause trouble we are saying ‘stay away’.

“This is going to be the most peaceful protest ever in Lincoln. We don’t want any trouble and we have been liaising with police for a long time.”

Condemning the event is the Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism Group who will hold a counter-demo At City Square, calling on people to ‘unite against hatred’.

The group previously hosted counter-demos when activists against proposals for a mosque in Lincoln protested in the city centre.

A rally is being held at the Lincoln Labour Club at 7pm on July 22 to spark discussions ahead of Saturday’s event.

Anti-racism protestors chanted throughout the day at the 2014 protest. Photo: Emily Norton

Anti-racism protestors chanted throughout the day at the 2014 protest. Photo: Emily Norton

A spokesperson for Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism said: “We believe that it’s not enough to ignore the presence of the far-right in Lincoln. We want to build the biggest possible peaceful opposition to the EDL this weekend with the message that united we stand, divided we fall.”

Officers from the City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire Police will be monitoring Saturday’s demo and counter-protest.

City of Lincoln Council Leader, Councillor Ric Metcalfe

City of Lincoln Council Leader, Councillor Ric Metcalfe

Cllr Ric Metcalfe, Leader of City of Lincoln Council, said: “Lincoln is a very tolerant place and we fully support the rights of the Muslim community to have a place of worship, like any other religious group, and not to feel threatened by those who object to this.

“This march has the potential to cause disruption to the normal weekend activity in the city centre but we are working with the police to ensure that appropriate resources are available to minimise any impact to residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors.”