Muslim school protesters march through Portsmouth

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Protesters angry at a planned Muslim school marched through Portsmouth this afternoon.

Around 20 people including members of the English Defence League (EDL) gathered at Lake Road, where the Madani Academy is to be based.

Shortly after midday they set off to march through Fratton Road, Victoria Road South and Albert Road, returning to Lake Road before the march finishes at Guildhall Square.

There was a big police presence in the area as the march began, with around 30 counter-protesters also present at Lake Road.

Some of the marchers wore balaclavas and several were carrying English flags, some with messages such as EDL: NO Surrender written on them.

One of the marchers, Dwayne O’Neale (29), who was he was a member of a group called the Waterlooville Defence League, said: ‘Everybody is branding us as racists but we are not racists.

‘We are angry that our laws are being changed and that people from our country are fighting against us.

‘We are not against a Muslim school being opened - we are against not being given a choice. It’s a Muslim-only school and we are not being given a choice about whether our children go there.’

Lawrence Collemy, who is 36 and from Buckland, said: ‘We have got a Muslim school that is Muslim only. The fact of the matter if others use mainstream schools, why can’t they?

‘Why is their education different? I know some people might see this as an extreme view but it is not.

‘With everything going on in Syria, and all the stuff with Isis, it is just a concern because it is a Muslim school.

‘If you are a Christian, you would not qualify to go there. This is not about race. There is just a lot stuff going on in Portsmouth today which I think there is a real concern about.

‘It is my first time on a march. I was one of four people who coorganised it. This is segregating people but we should be integrated. If there were proposals to put up white only, Christian schools, there would be uproar.’