23rd August 2010
The Home Secretary should lift the ban on marches in a city or risk making protesters more radical, a think-tank said today. Banning protests from extremist groups was an ineffective way of combating their ideology, Demos said.
The warning comes as police in Bradford continue to plan for clashes between supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) and their opponents this weekend – despite Home Secretary Theresa May authorising a blanket ban on marches in the city.
Jamie Bartlett, a researcher at Demos, said banning the march “could push members of the English Defence League into more radical groups like Combat 18 or the Racial Volunteer Force”.
“Far from being destructive, protest can be an important outlet for that anger and frustration that could tip into violence and helps people to feel a sense of belonging to the society in which they live,” he said.
“The Government should show that being radical or extreme is acceptable in an open and free society like the UK. The same rules must apply to everyone, whether they are radical Islamist groups or the English Defence League.