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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Police prepare for right-wing 'ban the burka' demonstration in city centre (UK)

Devon and Cornwall Police are preparing for a potential flash point with the right-wing English Defence League and anti-fascist campaigners set to converge on Exeter at the weekend.

The controversial group is understood to be taking part in a "ban the burka" protest in the city centre on Saturday while there is expected to be a counter rally by anti-racist campaigners, including the group Unite Against Fascism.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said officers did not anticipate any major disruption.

"Police are aware of the intended EDL protest on Saturday and will police it appropriately to ensure the safety of the public," a spokesman said.

"Similar previous protest meetings held within the force area have not caused major disruption or public disorder."

English Defence League supporter Jim Myers, from Exeter, said the protest was not being organised by EDL.

"We haven't organised it, we're just supporting it," he said. "It has been organised by another group, the United People of Britain."

Mr Myers said the event would be a "peaceful protest" and that police were aware of their plans.

Supporters of the group, which claims to be non-racially or politically motivated, say they will be wearing balaclavas and burkas to emphasise their message.

Meanwhile, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) is planning to meet at Bedford Square, in the city centre, between 11am and 2pm.

Liz Allnatt, of UAF, said: "People of Exeter are more concerned about jobs and pay and what is going to happen to their local services.

"Exeter is a beautiful city and people of all different beliefs and backgrounds usually get along here.

"The Muslim community has added to the city. The annual Respect Festival is a huge, well-attended celebration of Exeter's diversity."

This is Cornwall