English Defence League not welcome in Birmingham, say city's political leaders

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Cross-party political leaders in Birmingham have issued a joint message opposing all forms of extremism ahead of an English Defence League march in the city.

The leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups on Birmingham City Council urged people to go about their business as usual during the EDL protest on Saturday.

In a post on its Facebook page, the EDL said it had decided to move the rally, originally earmarked for Derby, in the wake of the Westminster terror attack. 

West Midlands Police expect fewer than 100 protesters to attend the EDL event, taking place at the same time as a nearby counter-demonstration.

The force said in a statement: "We have developed professional links with EDL organisers who recognise it is in the group's best interests to protest and have their say peacefully.

"We will have a highly-visible police presence on the ground and sufficient police resources on standby should there be any trouble."

A statement issued by the city council on behalf of party group leaders John Clancy, Robert Alden and Jon Hunt said: "The English Defence League is not welcome in Birmingham. They will never be welcome in Birmingham.

"We would urge people to go about their normal everyday business.

"There is no place in our city for messages of hate. There is no place for intolerance and there is no place for violence or extremism of any kind."

An EDL march in Birmingham on July 20 2013 saw missiles, including stones, bottles and broken glass, hurled at police officers in Centenary Square, resulting in several minor injuries.

More than 50 men were later convicted of violent disorder, including a 21-year-old who was jailed for three years and 10 months.

Two other men were charged with violent disorder after a counter-protest held on the same day.

The EDL has said its latest rally aims to highlight what it describes as a "continued increase in Islamic terrorism" linked to Birmingham.

In a statement explaining its decision to move the demonstration away from Derby, the EDL said Birmingham had been chosen as a venue because the city was "frequented" by Westminster terror attacker Khalid Masood.