Riot police are in a stand-off with ring-wing protesters who stormed the site of a planned 'super mosque'. Four members of the far-right English Defence League scaled the roof of a derelict building in Dudley, West Midlands, yesterday waving anti-Muslim banners. Dozens of protesters gathered at the site on Sunday night after an internet campaign calling upon EDL supporters to attend a protest.
Around 30 masked protesters were ordered off the site as fights broke out. Several EDL members clambered onto the roof of the building earmarked for super mosque development. A police officer and local teenager were taken to hospital for minor injuries after the clashes.It comes just a month after 2,000 of far-right EDL protesters descended on Dudley to march against Islamic extremism.
Some bashed down metal fences, threw metal brackets at police and even fought with their own stewards who were trying to calm them down.This morning, four men dressed in balaclavas and army fatiques remained on the roof of the old clothing factory where they unfurled banners reading 'No to the burka' and 'no mosque'.The EDL's website claims the protesters 'have food and water to last them weeks, and a PA system to give speeches'. It adds: 'I believe they even have a Playstation. They will be playing the call to prayer to let those who are not bothered by this mosque know what to look forward to.' An eyewitness said: 'They're waving England flags and blaring out Islamic music from a loud speaker.'
Chief Inspector Matt Markham from West Midlands Police said: 'We have always facilitated peaceful protests by members of the EDL and other organisations, but we do not welcome this kind of protest.'Our priorities are to minimise any disruption to the local community in Dudley and to prevent any further incidents of disorder from occurring.'Our message to anyone thinking of turning up with the intention of causing disorder is not to, as we have police resources available and any such activity will be dealt with swiftly and robustly.'Officers have cordoned off the area and are currently negotiating with the protesters.
The protest came as the Dudley Muslim Association announced they were scrapping plans for the £18million mosque which have caused such controversy in the town.
The mosque, which would have been built on derelict land, would have had a 65ft minaret, and the proposals have been dogged by controversy from the beginning,Two petitions of more than 50,000 signatures were gathered in opposition.Residents who objected said the mosque would dominate the skyline and be out of keeping with the town’s medieval character. They also objected to the mosque being built on land designated for employment use.Dudley Council threw out the application in 2007, but it was granted at an appeal the following year by a government inspector.
In 2009 the council launched a High Court bid against the inspector’s decision but the judge upheld the ruling, granting outline planning permission.
Deputy council leader, Les Jones, told a local paper today that the Muslim Association had instead agreed to develop their existing site after months of delicate negotiations.He said: 'The current mosque is not really fit for purpose and we have been working with them to come up with some plans and would have been looking to submit an outline planning application in the next few months.'Despite claiming to have the support of Dudley residents, locals today branded the EDL protest as 'racist' and 'a waste of police time'.Sarah Williams, 23, said: 'They're just here to cause trouble, these people, and playing that music like that is outrageous and racist. They are just asking for trouble. 'These people just want to live here peacefully.
I am sure she was just the first asked, passing member of the local populace.
Seriously, I can't make my mind up with the E.D.L, as to what they are and