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Birmingham rally by far-right Britain First passes without major disorder

Approximately 250 supporters of the party were escorted by police on a short route through the city centre.

A rally by the far-right Britain First group has passed without any major disorder after a high-profile policing operation.

An estimated 250 supporters of the party were escorted by police on a short route through Birmingham city centre, with a similar number of people attending nearby counter-protests.

Officers said one arrest had been made for a minor public order offence after several roads were closed briefly to allow protesters to move from the Hill Street area to Centenary Square.

During the protests, a smoke bomb was let off and a plastic bottle was thrown at officers, who repeatedly had to form cordons to prevent rival protesters from confronting each other.

In a statement issued prior to the march, West Midlands Police said: “We recognise the impact such protests can have on the city but we have no power to ban a static peaceful protest.

“In fact, we and the council have a duty to facilitate the fundamental democratic right of peaceful protest.”

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Saffiyah Khan, whose image went viral online in April after she was pictured smiling during scuffles at an English Defence League march, attended Saturday’s protests as part of a film crew documenting both sides of the event.

Speaking near where she was pictured standing face-to-face with EDL leader Ian Crossland, Ms Khan said of Britain First: “I think, like with the EDL and every right-wing group that comes to Birmingham, they cause a bit of a scene, affect traffic, affect locals and they come in from all over the UK.

“While they have the right to be doing that, as part of freedom of speech… if they march they will be doing it on the police’s rules and more importantly the community’s rules – and they will be challenged by locals.”

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From Belfast Telegraph