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Police and council spin on anti-Islamic violence fails to convince.

Riots aftermath - page 14 Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for equalities and human resources, Alan Rudge, who is a lawyer, is no doubt technically correct when he insists that neither the police nor the council had powers to prevent last Saturday's violent anti-Islamic extremism clashes between right and left-wing groups from taking place in the city centre.

And in raising the notion that banning such gatherings would deny freedom of speech and that those with strong views are entitled to have their say "provided they are doing nothing illegal", Coun Rudge rehearses the argument of the libertarian throughout the ages. That is all very well, but his comments are hardly likely to cut much ice with law-abiding citizens whose Saturday afternoon shopping expeditions were ruined by having to dodge violent yobs and baton-wielding police. Pictures of shoppers cowering in doorways while bottles and bricks fly will not do the image of Birmingham much good.

It is clear that the council and police have agreed between themselves to put a spin on the weekend's events, claiming that nothing very much happened and that any clashes were contained and dealt with. The fact that 90 people were arrested points to the foolishness of such a simplistic attempt to bend the truth, compounded by Coun Rudge's facile comment that the demonstrators did not behave as badly as thugs at an average football match.

It must be hoped that there is not now a third clash between the English Defence League and socialist groups on the streets of Birmingham. How much violence must there be before the authorities admit we have a serious problem?
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 8, 2009
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