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English Defence League in protest

Police were prepared to deal with potential clashes during a demonstration by the right-wing English Defence League in Amsterdam in support of Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, Dutch authorities said.

Officers equipped with horses and dogs were among those out in force as approximately 60 EDL protesters gathered in a specially designated area between the city centre and port.

Dutch authorities attempted to isolate the protest from anti-fascist groups and supporters of football team Ajax, both of whom have urged their members to disrupt the afternoon demonstration.

Amsterdam Police spokesman Rob van der Veen said: "We have enough police officers present to make sure it will be peaceful and there won't be any confrontation between the different groups."

"We want to make sure they won't be able to meet each other."

Mr Wilders has reportedly said he has no ties to the EDL and does not support the demonstration.

Writing in The Times this week, Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, called on political parties to "choke off" what the English Defence League (EDL) taps into.

He said the EDL was a small, violent street militia "but it speaks the language of a much larger, disenfranchised class".

Around 2,000 members of the right-wing EDL gathered alongside 1,500 anti-fascist campaigners from the UAF (Unite Against Fascism) at Victoria Square in Bolton town centre on March 20.

Ten people were charged and 17 arrested during demonstrations by the EDL and UAF earlier this month in Leicester. Violence was largely kept at bay as more than 2,000 officers policed roughly 1,700 protesters - 1,000 from the EDL and 700 from the UAF.

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