Far right group stages ‘silent’ anti-Muslim protest in Rotherham

Tommy Robinson at an EDL rally in Sheffield in 2013. He is now one of the leaders of the Pegida group
Tommy Robinson at an EDL rally in Sheffield in 2013. He is now one of the leaders of the Pegida group
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Around 50 far right anti-Islamic protesters descended on Rotherham to ‘silent march’ through the town.

The Pegida group, led by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, marched from the train station to the Town Hall on Saturday afternoon.

Despite some chatter, the far right protesters did remain largely silent during their protest.

A counter-protest, attended by around 100 people, gathered in the town centre to condemn the far-right march. Outside the town hall Tommy Robinson addressed his followers, who waved Union flags, England flags – and Israeli flags. The Pegida leader threatened to rip-up the Koran on his next visit to Rotherham.

He further threatened that the group would return to the town – which has already had 15 far-right protests in the last two years – every month. The counter-protest condemned the Pegida group, insisting the ‘fascists’ were not welcome in Rotherham.

Councillors, business owners, residents and Muslim groups had sent an open letter requesting that the march to be banned, but police said there was no grounds to.

Both protests passed peacefully. Pegida followers were escorted by police to the train station at around 2.30pm. Counter-protestors dispersed peacefully at roughly the same time.

Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin said: “At the height of the protests we saw around 150 people in one group and 100 in the other. Both groups protested peacefully.”

Far right protests are proving increasingly costly to police, with the region’s forces spending millions each year ensuring trouble is kept to a minimum.