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Far right protest brings angry scenes to south side of Glasgow

Protesters marking the first anniversary of a man murdered by Asian youths have brought disruption to a residential area of Glasgow.

Scene in Pollokshields today. Picture: Nick Ponty
Scene in Pollokshields today. Picture: Nick Ponty

Mounted police, helicopters and scores of officers were deployed in Pollokshields, home to Scotland’s largest Asian community, despite a maximum of 10 members of the Scottish Defence League (SDL) turning up.

The SDL group had wanted to lay a wreath near the spot where William McKeeney was murdered last January.

The SDL also protested outside the High Court in Edinburgh late last year when Asif Rehman and Adel Ishaq, both 20, were jailed for 16 years for the murder of the Donegal man.

The racial element of the charges against the pair was dropped during the trial.

It is understood Mr McKeeney’s girlfriend, who witnessed the attack, and friends and relatives were horrified at attempts by the extremist group to associate themselves with the tragedy.

Today, a counter protest by up to 100 members of the United Against Fascism also gathered in Pollokshields and had to be kept apart from the SDL by lines of police.

At one stage, upwards of 20 officers were seen escorting three SDL members away from the flashpoint.

Later, a group of counter-protesters broke away from the main group and charged towards the SDL, but were again kept apart from the police.

Locals also described how today’s episode led to Muslim women having to be escorted through the streets by police officers, and other people were denied entry to their homes while police attempted to keep the groups apart.

The cost to the public purse of the three-hour incident is expected to run into tens of thousands of pounds.

The group is an offshoot of the English Defence League, essentially a far-right street protest movement which opposes what it considers to be a spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in the UK.

It has mustered up to 200 people at protests in Scotland, but is generally confined to a hard core of activists.

Strathclyde Police could only say today's episode passed off without any arrests.

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