The event was organised by groups called’ British and Immigrants United Against Terrorism’ and ‘Gays Against Sharia’ to protest “issues of female genital mutilation, homophobia within Islam and Sharia Law”, reports Bristol Post.
An estimate crowd of 65 gathered marched through Bristol’s streets before converging on Queen Square to listen to speeches from UKIP leadership hopeful Anne Marie Waters and Tommy English (who describes himself on Twitter as an ‘Anti-Racist, Anti-Jihadi, English Patriot. Leader of #GaysAgainstShariaUK’).
Around 100 anti-fascist activists and protesters from Bristol’s LGBT community and Stand Up To Racism and Bigotry turned out on Sunday, September 10 to counter-protest the event. Around 250 police officers cordoned off Queen Square, keeping opposing protestors apart.
Despite this protestors clashed counter-protesters and five people were arrested. During the confrontations, there were reportedly shouts of “fascist scum off our streets” and “how many of you are actually gay?”
Although rally organisers denied being on the “far right” of the political spectrum, at least one of the groups is affiliated to right-wing organisations English Defence League (EDL) through Gays Against Sharia organiser Tommy English. Members of extreme-right group South West Infidels were also in attendance.
English (real name Tommy Cook) was one of the organisers of UK Against Hate, an anti-muslim protest which attracted between 1 – 2,000 people in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester on June 11. Despite claims during the event that UK Against Hate “..isn’t the EDL, it is UK Against Hate” the membership of the two groups enjoy considerable cross-over.
Gays Against Sharia UK will be kick starting 2018 with a rally & conference on the same day!
Watch this space!
— Tommy English كافر (@EnglishTommy1) September 12, 2017
“Overall the operation went well, with the vast majority of those involved behaving and following our request for peaceful demonstrations,” Bristol Police chief inspector Andy Williams later said in a statement.
“Unfortunately there were a small number of counter-protestors who deviated from their pre-agreed route and who became disruptive.
“This led to a small amount of anti-social behaviour in the Old Market area which caused some congestion on surrounding roads while officers dealt with the situation.”
It is reported that four men were arrested for assaults on officers and another for obstruction during the demonstrations.
© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.