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Religious leaders’ conflict warning
Mosque leaders in Keighley are being urged to “make sure there is no confrontation” when the far-right English Defence League holds a demonstration in the town against alleged sexual grooming.
Bradford Councillor Abid Hussain, a leading member of Keighley Muslim Association, appealed to the Muslim community to show restraint.
Coun Hussain said: “Everybody has a right to protest and we cannot stop this protest but members of the Muslim community will be concerned about this. I don’t think anyone wants them in Keighley but we are hoping for a peaceful demonstration.”
He added: “The message for the Muslim community, which will be passed on to all the mosques, will be to make sure there is no confrontation.”
Traders and community leaders are also preparing for the planned demonstration.
Supporters of the extremist group have announced details of the protest, which will see them gather in Church Green, North Street, on Saturday for what is expected to be a heavily-policed protest by its Yorkshire Division.
They are holding what they describe as a “peaceful demonstration” against allegations of the sexual grooming of white girls by Asian men.
The demonstration was planned after police made ten arrests across Bradford district – the majority in Keighley – of men suspected of grooming a 14-year-old girl.
They have all been released on bail as an investigation continues.
The EDL group plans to meet in The Albert Inn pub, Bridge Street, at noon on Saturday before the demonstration at 2pm in Church Green. Those arriving by train will be escorted by police.
A Police spokesman said: "West Yorkshire Police has a great deal of experience in handling such events and appropriate police resources will be available on the day."
Keighley’s Tory MP Kris Hopkins and the town’s former Labour MP Ann Cryer have urged people not to attend the demonstration.
Although there has been no suggestion from the EDL that its members plan to march in the town, Bradford Respect party MP George Galloway has called for the Home Secretary Theresa May to ban any attempt to do so.
The Government has the power to ban a march but has no powers to outlaw a static protest.