Authorities arrested 90 people after racially charged violence erupted between a group protesting Islamic extremism and counter-demonstrators in the central English city of Birmingham, police said Sunday.Some reports indicate that the Muslim counter protesters were urged to counterprotest at the behest of their leaders.
The clashes erupted Saturday when a rally by the English Defense League ran into counter-demonstrators including anti-fascists and youths of South Asian descent, West Midlands Police said.
About 200 people were involved in the clashes in downtown Birmingham, police said.
Television footage showed masked or hooded youths throwing projectiles and running from riot police through the diverse city's downtown area.
Police said the 90 people detained -- all males aged 16 to 39 -- were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and violent disorder.
Muslims were encouraged by the Birmingham Central Mosque to counter-demonstrate during Saturday’s protest in the city, which was organised by the right-wing English Defence League (EDL). It is understood that Muslims were encouraged to confront the protest against the advice given by the West Midlands Police to community leaders to stop their followers from attending.The problems aren't just confined to Birmingham.
Mohammad Naseem, Birmingham Central Mosque’s chairman, considered to be the most senior community leader in the West Midlands region, told The Times yesterday that he encouraged members of his congregation to attend the rally, at which about 80 people were arrested, to express the Islamic community’s solidarity.
Dr Naseem’s advice came less than a month after Muslims of predominantly Asian heritage clashed with the EDL in Birmingham at another antiIslamic rally that led to 35 arrests.
The Muslim leaders have to be held accountable for their incitement to violence as well.