Police gearing up for city protest by far right group

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POLICE have moved to reassure residents over a planned protest by the far right group the English Defence League.

Members of the Portsmouth and south east branch are planning a march in the city next month.

They say they will peacefully protest against Islamic extremism and Sharia law, which they are against.

A wreath will then be laid in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square in memory of servicemen and women who have lost their lives.

The march is due to take place on July 16 but the group says that date could change and it has refused to reveal the route.

The group has informed police who are now planning for an estimated 1,000 people expected to come to Portsmouth for the march.

Officers from Safer Neighbourhoods Teams are speaking to locals to allay any concerns about the planned protest.

Superintendent Rick Burrows, who is planning Operation Buscot, said: ‘We are engaging with organisers to establish details and have begun the planning process to provide a policing operation.

‘This will facilitate the group’s right to peaceful and lawful protest, while minimising the impact to people and ensuring that the interests of all members of the local community are protected.

‘Officers from the Safer Neighbourhoods teams in Portsmouth are engaging with members of the local community to address any concerns they may have. It is very early in the planning process at this time.’

The rally comes eight months after up to 100 people were involved in a protest outside the Jami Mosque in Victoria Road North, Southsea. It started after Muslim extremists from outside Portsmouth burned poppies in London during the Armistice Day two-minute silence. Peace campaigners gathered outside the mosque in support of the Muslim community.

An English Defence League spokesman said: ‘This is not a national demo but a local one that will be protesting at situations relevant to that area.

‘The English Defence League will be peacefully protesting at this event against Islamic extremism.’