London, Sep. 7 (ANI): Muslims were encouraged by the Birmingham Central Mosque to "vent their feelings" against anti-Islamic protesters during a weekend rally, which ended up taking shape of a riot.
The Times quoted Birmingham Central Mosque's chairman Mohammad Naseem as saying that he encouraged members of his congregation to participate in the rally despite the advice given by the West Midlands Police to stop his flowers from attending.
He said the presence of Muslims at the weekend protest was an important stand against anti-Islamic fascists.
"I think it shows that the community has got a sense of cohesion," he added.
The police used their batons to subdue the violent crowd of more than 200 people, predominantly aged between 16 and 36, who threw bottles at each other and exchanged punches.
About 80 people, mostly counter protestors, were arrested in the violent rally.
The West Midlands police received assurances from Muslim leaders during numerous meetings in the past two weeks that their community members would be discouraged from attending the protest, police sources said.
"The police had a lot of engagement with mosques, youth workers and social workers, and a lot of work went on to encourage people to stay away and not attend," police sources said.
"But it is obviously difficult to stop kids going and their presence alone would be deemed provocative."
However, Dr Naseem said that Muslims were told to attend only after he was assured by police that protesters and counter-protesters would congregate at different locations.
"If it was kept as originally intended, then everybody would have had a chance to give vent to their feelings without coming into contact with each other. And that I will take up with the police," he said. (ANI)