Islamic Extremism at Forefront of England Unrest

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Dozens were arrested during political demonstrations in Manchester, England, last weekend, sparking concern that tensions between varying groups will continue to grow violent.

Skirmishes between the English Defence League -- a group that opposes radical Islam -- and its anti-fascist opponents led to 48 arrests. More than 2,000 people attended the protests.

The English Defence League was founded in June after a protest by British Muslims against British soldiers returning from Iraq. The EDL said it formed because of frustration at the lack of action by the British government against extremist Muslim preachers and organizations. Their opponents call them fascists.

"I think that there is a recognition that the English Defence League are violent thugs and actually, that's the reason why they have been restricted from coming into the square, restricted inside the city and it's about protecting the city," said Raymond Bennett, president of Unite Against Fascism. "There's a change. There's a recognition of what they attempted to do."

The EDL said although its members look menacing, it is anti-racist and anti-fascist, and welcomes anyone who opposes Islamic extremism to join their group.

"Most of us are ex-football hooligans and what have you," said member of EDF, Wayne, who gave only his first name. "But we ain't going round 'Sieg Heiling' or anything. All we're trying to do is get a point over that most people want to say, but they can't say because they've got no freedom of speech to say."

"I mean, I don't mind getting arrested for saying what I want to do, pay the fine, come back out," he added. "It's just going to happen again and again and again."

More protests are planned, and experts fear a rise in tensions between working class whites, leftists and Muslim immigrant communities could lead to further violence.

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A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.