Woolwich attack: English Defence League chief and Muslim share hug at protest
As thousands of English Defence League and anti-fascist protestors took to a city’s streets yesterday, a remarkable scene unfolded away from the crowds in a back lane.
Onlookers feared the worst as a row flared between EDL chief Tommy Robinson and Muslim political commentator Mohammed Ansar.
But within moments the pair stunned watchers… by smiling and embracing each other.
“It’s something I never thought I’d see,” said a man who witnessed the bizarre scene in a side street just before the EDL and anti-fascist Newcastle Unites rallies started on Tyneside.
“These two having a debate in a back lane while thousands were demonstrating – and then cuddling and embracing.”
And the truce seemed to spread as the demos in the wake of Woolwich went peacefully even though up to 2,000 people took part in the EDLevent and nearly 400 in the Newcastle Unites rally.
Chief Supt Gary Calvert said: “I am pleased this passed off without major incident. Disruption was kept to a minimum. There were a number of arrests mainly to do with alcohol or to prevent public order offences – but most took place before the protests started and most of those taking part were well behaved.”
There has been a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents since Lee Rigby’s murder, an inter-faith charity has revealed.
A number of people have been arrested after alleged offensive comments on social media websites and four people have been charged by police.
Faith Matters, which runs a helpline, said they had received more than 150 calls since the attack.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, told the BBC: “What’s really concerning is the spread of these incidents. They’re coming in from right across the country.”