Far-right plots 9/11 flashpoint

ANTI-racism groups are demanding the banning of a planned parade by a far-right organisation through the heart of Edinburgh.

Campaigners claim extremists will spark violent disorder if they march from Regent Road to the east end of Princes Street next month.

Opponents claim the Scottish Defence League (SDL) has deliberately chosen the day before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on New York for the parade, which is understood to pass the American Consulate in Edinburgh.

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More than 2,000 demonstrators turned out for an anti-racism march and rally in February last year after the SDL announced plans for a gathering in the capital - but failed to seek permission from the authorities.

However, after the authorities criticised the group for keeping them in the dark last year, this time the SDL has decided to make it official and is seeking permission for a lunchtime parade on 10 September, which would see activists gather around the statue of the Duke of Wellington at the east end of Princes Street.

Last year, more than 700 officers had to be deployed to maintain order in the city, with scuffles breaking out in the Royal Mile when around 100 SDL activists tried to gather in a pub in the Canongate. In the end, five arrests were made for public order offences, while SDL members were bussed out of the city for their own safety.

Luke Henderson, spokesman for the Unite Against Fascism group, said he is "appalled" to learn of the SDL's plans for another demo in Edinburgh.

"You would have hoped that the SDL would have got the message last time they tried to march, when a magnificent counter protest saw the largest anti-racist demonstration in Edinburgh in living memory. It is ironic that this march appears to be timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The EDL is a group that was admired by and linked to Anders Breivik.

"We don't think the SDL should be given permission to march in Edinburgh and will be urging people to write to the council to make their view clear before a decision is taken."

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, spokesman for the Scotland United anti-racism alliance, added: "Our view is absolute condemnation of this application in light of what has happened in Norway.

"This is a violent and extremist organisation. We would that the police would have an equally robust response to the SDL this time round."

No one from the SDL could be contacted for comment.

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A spokesman for the city council said: "We have received an application and this will be considered in due course. Both the police and the council recognise the rights, as well as the responsibilities, of organisations that want have a peaceful and lawful demonstration." The SDL is an off-shoot of the English Defence League, whose demonstrations have triggered violent clashes across England over the past two years.

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