Blow to leader in plea on extremist marches in Barking and Dagenham
�Plans to ban “inflamatory” protests in the �borough received mixed responses from the groups involved.
Last week, council leader Liam Smith wrote to home secretary Theresa May asking her to ban “inflammatory” protests in Barking and Dagenham after an English Defence League protest against a planned mosque and community �centre in Green Lane, Dagenham, escalated last month.
The Home Office, however, has told the Post that it may not have the power to grant Mr Smith’s request.
Raza Nadim, of Ilford, is a member of Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPAC UK), which held a protest against the EDL on July 9.
He said: “No matter how repugnant you may find the EDL, banning a protest does stifle free speech.
“But you’re really stifling hate speech.
“I think the council should be congratulated. The EDL have been using the angle of a cover-up by the council about planning permission to say ‘we don’t like Muslims’.”
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He said the EDL protests should instead be designated to a particular area.
Leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson, said: “It shows weak leadership by politicians.
“The EDL will continue to protest, even if it means we break the law.
“We will not have our �democratic right taken away from us.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said that the home secretary only had the power to ban marches, which protesters could get around by holding “static” demonstrations.
However, any bans would have to follow a Metropolitan Police recommendation to ban a particular protest, and Liam Smith’s letter was not seen as a formal request.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government condemns extremism, whatever form it takes.
“We are clear that violence and intimidation is wholly unacceptable.
“It is important that police, local agencies and communities work together to mitigate the impact of disruptive demonstrations.”
Borough Commander Matt Bell said: “Police will always uphold the public’s right to peaceful protest.”