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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

'We must stand united against the hatred of a few'

Groups across Portsmouth have vowed to 'stand united against hatred' after a demonstration by a right-wing group in the city.
The English Defence League led a protest outside the city's Jami mosque on Saturday, as reported in The News.
Demonstrators claimed to be campaigning after a small group of Muslim extremists in central London burned poppies on November 11, though no Portsmouth Muslims were involved.

But they were met at the mosque in Victoria Road South, Southsea, by scores of members of the local community who opposed their protest.

Jatin Patel, of Portsmouth's Racial Harassment Forum, said: 'It's good Portsmouth united against the EDL.

'The burning of poppies was nothing to do with the city. So why send people from London, where it happened? We are united against hatred.'

Missiles, including bottles and firecrackers, were thrown by the mosque protesters. A 20-year-old Portsmouth man was arrested on suspicion of affray and was bailed until December 15.

Southsea resident, Linda Spence, 50, who had gone to the mosque to show solidarity against the EDL, said: 'It was terrifying. When they threw things, I wanted to go. But I looked around and thought the more of us there were, the safer we would all be. They were shouting "Go back to where you came from" but we were all from Portsmouth.'

DI Nigel Oliver said the investigation continued, adding: 'This was an unusual event for Portsmouth and for the most part the demonstrations were peaceful.

'We are, however, pursuing those responsible for causing trouble and we'll be dealing with them appropriately. Much of the evidence will come from footage of the protest and we're in the process of collating that from various sources.

'We've got CCTV images but there were also a lot of people taking photographs and videos of the protest and I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has material that may help us.'

City council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'A few of these misguided campaigners were from Portsmouth but most seemed to be from outside the city.'

Portsmouth News