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Woman in viral EDL photo says she stepped in to help lady in headscarf

A young woman pictured smiling during scuffles at an English Defence League rally has said she stepped in to help a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf.

The image of Saffiyah Khan remaining calm as she came face to face with EDL leader Ian Crossland went viral on social media and has attracted messages of support from around the world.

Police made three arrests during the rally in Birmingham's Centenary Square on Saturday after being forced to form cordons to keep EDL supporters and counter-protesters apart.

The image of Ms Khan, taken by Press Association photographer Joe Giddens, won praise from Labour MP Jess Phillips, while Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan described it as "photo of the week".

Ms Khan, who is from Birmingham and has family links to both Bosnia and Pakistan, said: "I kept myself out of the way but sadly it did kick off between the EDL and a lady in a headscarf.

"She was quite a small woman. When I realised that nothing was being done and she was being surrounded 360 - that's when I came in as well."

Adding that she had no idea at the time that the man who confronted her near the Library of Birmingham was the leader of the EDL, Ms Khan told the Press Association: "All I saw was an angry man having a bit of a rant."

Asked if the presence of police at the protest had made a difference to her decision to go to the aid of the woman, Ms Khan replied: "Not in the slightest. I would have done the same regardless."

In a post on her Twitter feed, Birmingham Yardley MP Ms Phillips said of the photograph: "Who looks like they have power here, the real Brummy on the left or the EDL who migrated for the day to our city and failed to assimilate."

EDL activists said on Twitter that the scuffles broke out after counter-protesters shouting "Nazi scum" disrupted a silence being held at the rally for victims of terrorism.

In a Twitter message, Mr Crossland claimed counter-protesters had been disrespectful by interrupting the silence for victims of the Westminster terror attack.

West Midlands Police said an 18-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man detained during the protest were later "de-arrested" by officers.

Officers also took a 26-year-old man into custody to prevent a breach of the peace. He was later released without charge.

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