The English Defence League (EDL) is planning protests in at least 30 locations on Saturday afternoon, after the group’s leadership called for localised events rather than a national demonstration.
Meanwhile Anti-EDL campaigners have said that they had identified “10 or 12” of these locations for counter-demos, with Leeds their priority.
The EDL’s plans emerged after members of the “hacktivist” group Anonymous launched a campaign against the anti-Islamic group. Anonymous members leaked personal information it said belonged to EDL donors and members on Tuesday and promised a further leak, with more to follow in the near future.
The far-right group’s co-founder Stephen Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, has asked EDL members to march in silence this weekend. He has called on them to lay wreaths at memorials and instructed them not to carry banners or drink alcohol while marching, following violent scenes in London on Monday.
Plans for many events were published online yesterday. Most of England’s major cities are represented but, in many towns, only a handful of people have currently stated their intention to attend.
Matthew Collins of anti-fascist group Hope not Hate said he believed that the decision to localise the demonstration was part of a plan to draw attention away from a simultaneous march planned in London by the British National Party, with whom the EDL leadership has clashed with in the past.
He added: “Tommy Robinson has got off his political deathbed. The EDL was as good as dead last week. Lennon had lost all respect from what was left of his gang.”
An Acpo spokesman said: “Police are aware of a number of demonstrations planned for this weekend. Forces across the country will be working closely with local communities as always to ensure these pass off with minimum disruption. While we will do all we can to facilitate peaceful protest, those taking part should be clear that the police will uphold the law.”
West Yorkshire Police said it was not aware of a large-scale planned action by either the EDL or its opponents but would be looking at putting plans in place between now and Saturday.
Members of the Anonymous team leading the attack on the EDL said they decided to act because the anti-Islamic group was “ capitalising” on the death of Drummer Rigby.
The group also said it was also in retaliation for the EDL’s treatment of Muslims.
“I’ve seen their treatment to Muslims in my own town and I want to do something about it, and raise awareness of it,” said one member.