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Keighley residents praised for restraint during EDL protest
Community leaders have praised residents in Keighley for showing restraint after a demonstration by the English Defence League in the town passed without serious incident.
Around 150 members of the far-right group gathered on Church Green to condemn allegations of sexual grooming of white girls by Asian men.
Saturday’s event was planned after police last month made ten arrests across Bradford district – the majority in Keighley – of men suspected of grooming a 14-year-old girl.
Around 100 officers, including mounted police, were positioned around the green to stop the demonstration spilling into other parts of the town centre.
Some of the EDL supporters were understood to have met in Bradford city centre before heading to Keighley. A group of men chanted in the street near Centenary Square.
Once at the green in Keighley, EDL members chanted, shouted and waved banners. Several attempts were made to surge through police barriers and batons were drawn by officers. Two fireworks were also let off.
Around 200 people, including young families, gathered on the outskirts of the green to watch the demonstration, which also saw speakers address the crowd from Keighley’s market cross.
A small group of young Asian men, believed to have come from Bradford, were kept away from the rally by community leaders.
After around two hours the EDL supporters, who had travelled from across the north, were shepherded on to double-decker buses in Church Street and transported out of town.
Coun Khadim Hussain (Lab, Keighley Central) said he understood two people had been arrested during the demonstration.
He said: “We were working very closely with the police and council officials. My compliments go to the police for handling the situation remarkably.
“Although the EDL did their level best to provoke a reaction, my hat goes off to the people of Keighley, to how they behaved. They stayed united and did not allow them to get what they were hoping. The EDL’s attempt to hijack an issue failed miserably. They got a very clear, precise message from the community that they are not welcome in Keighley.
Councillor Abid Hussain, senior vice-president of Keighley Muslim Assoc-iation, said: “The Muslim community did listen to messages from the Council and senior police officers. They kept their children at home. On behalf of the Muslim community we would like to thank the police and the Council.”
Bradford Council leader Coun David Green said: “I would like to extend my gratitude to the incredibly hard work done by Council staff and the Keighley community in working together to make sure that the EDL didn’t get the reaction that they were looking for and the event passed off relatively peacefully.”
Airedale and North Brad-ford Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Ian Kennedy said: “I am very pleased with the policing of the event. The community of Keighley pulled together and did not rise to any provocation.
“The day passed without serious incident and local people can be extremely proud of how they dealt with the demonstration.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said: “They made it out to be a big demonstration, the reality was it was a damp squib. What it did do was to cost a small fortune to police. We did have very capable police officers managing the situation. I was very impressed with the Council’s response as well.”