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Anti-Islam English Defense League Protesters Clash With Police In Bradford, UK

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LONDON — A right-wing group that opposes what it calls the spread of Islam in Britain clashed with riot police in northern England on Saturday, throwing bottles, rocks and a smoke bomb at authorities. The demonstration by the English Defense League occurred in Bradford, a city with one of the country's largest Pakistani and Muslim communities.

The clashes began as the police kept about 700 English Defense League protesters apart from a leftist group that had called a counter-demonstration nearby. One English Defense League protester was taken away with a leg injury and five people were arrested, police said.

Bradford saw some of the U.K.'s worst riots in 2001, when racial tension between whites and South Asian immigrants resulted in looting, arson, and attacks on immigrant-owned businesses. More than 180 people were charged with rioting in that incident.

The city had braced for similar unrest Saturday because the English Defense League had predicted that thousands of its supporters would descend on the city.

But riot police, some riding horses, outnumbered the activists, penning them in with barricades to keep them away from the counter-demonstration by United Against Fascism.

The two opposing groups had clashed during similar rallies last year in northern English cities such as Leeds and Manchester.

The English Defense League, which insists it is a peaceful organization, opposes what it calls the spread of Islam, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in England.

Its opponents say the group is racist and stages violent protests.

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