Anti-Islamic ‘silent march’ in Rotherham today

Tommy Robinson (centre), at an EDL rally in Sheffield in 2013. He is now leader of the Pegida group who are marching through Rotherham  today

Tommy Robinson (centre), at an EDL rally in Sheffield in 2013. He is now leader of the Pegida group who are marching through Rotherham today

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A ‘silent march’ by an anti-Islamic group through Rotherham is happening today.

The Pegida group, led by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, is planning a ‘silent walk’ in the town this afternoon in relation to the town’s child sexual exploitation scandal.

The march will follow speeches outside Rotherham Town Hall.

An open letter was sent by representatives of the Muslim community in Rotherham asking the force’s interim chief constable Dave Jones asking for the march to be called off.

Local councillors, business owners and groups such as British Muslim Youth, the Rotherham Muslim Community Forum and the Rotherham Council of Mosques had signed the letter – citing fears about racial tensions in the town following the racist murder of Muslim pensioner Mushin Ahmed and repeated demonstrations by groups such as the EDL and Britain First.

But South Yorkshire Police said the ‘criteria required to prevent a procession’ has not been met.

Assistant chief constable Jason Harwin said that while it is expected Saturday’s demonstration would be allowed to go ahead ‘at this stage’, restrictions may be imposed on where and how it is staged.

He said: “The matter is under constant review. This will include, if necessary, the need to invoke powers under the Public Order Act 1986.

“At this stage the criteria required to prevent a procession is not met but other restrictions may apply including limits on the number of people that can attend, the time and location of the event.

“We will continue to work with all groups and communities to ensure we comply with the law, respecting the rights of all to peaceful protest, balanced against the rights of those affected.

“Minimising any disruption, potential disorder and increased tensions remains a key focus of the planning.

“We fully appreciate the context Rotherham and its communities face, with repeated protest from different groups and we will continue to work with the Home Office to consider the need for potential changes in the legislation.”