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Town praised for peaceful EDL rally
Action by police and other agencies helped stop groups clashing during last Saturday’s demonstration by the English Defence League.
Dozens of police including mounted officers kept members of the far-right campaign group confined to Church Green.
Meanwhile youth workers and community leaders patrolled town centre streets to persuade Asian youths to return home.
The afternoon demo, which attracted about 160 EDL supporters from across the North, passed without serious incident.
Five people were arrested for public order offences either during or after the rally, and were later released on bail pending further inquiries.
Saturday’s event was planned by the EDL after police last month made ten arrests across Bradford district – the majority in Keighley – of men suspected of grooming a 14-year-old girl.
As EDL supporters descended on Church Green early on Saturday afternoon, up to 200 people, including young families and local people, gathered to watch.
EDL supporters shouted, chanted, waved banners and listened to speakers at Keighley's market cross. At least two fireworks were let off.
Several times groups of demonstrators tried to break out into neighbouring streets, but they were forced back by lines of police officers, including several on horseback.
A group of Asian youths gathered on the Low Street side of Church Green but were kept separate from the EDL supporters.
The EDL supporters were eventually shepherded on to double-decker buses in Church Street and transported out of the town centre.
Community leaders this week praised Keighley people for showing restraint while the EDL were in town.
Khadim Hussain, a Bradford councillor representing Keighley Central ward, said: “Although the EDL did their level best to provoke a reaction, my hat goes off to the people of Keighley. They stayed united and did not allow them to get what they were hoping for.
“The EDL got a very clear, precise message from the community that they are not welcome in Keighley.”
Fellow councillor Abid Hussain, senior vice-president of Keighley Muslim Association, said the Muslim community listened to messages from the Council and senior police officers and “kept their children at home”.
Airedale and North Bradford divisional commander Chief Superintendent Ian Kennedy said: “The community of Keighley pulled together and did not rise to any provocation.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said the demonstration was a damp squib that was managed well by very capable police officers and the Council.
Police this week could not say how many extra officers were drafted in to police the demonstration, or how much it cost, but said the operation was carried out using “existing resources”.