A minister whose ban by a council sparked the English Defence League to organise a march has denied having links to the right-wing group.
The EDL plan to march through Norwich on Saturday November 10, to protest at the city council barring the Reverend Alan Clifford from a stall on Hay Hill, where the council believe he was promoting leaflets against Islam.
But the EDL, whose marches are often marred by violence, believe the ban infringed freedom of speech and organised the protest to demonstrate against it. They said: “The English Defence League will be showing their support for the church and protesting at Norwich City Council’s actions against the church and everyone else’s freedom of speech.”
But in a statement to the Evening News, Mr Clifford, from the Norwich Reformed Church, denied having any links to the group. He said: “I have no connection with either the EDL or the BNP. My objections to Islam are ideological not racial.” But he added the EDL “rightly” endorsed his views on Islam.
An alliance called We are Norwich will hold a counter-demonstration on the same day, which they said would celebrate Norwich’s diversity.
The Norfolk and Norwich Muslim Association (NNMA) also condemned the planned march. Trustee Dr Muhammad Abu-Elmagd said: “We strongly believe that the EDL’s intention is to cause disharmony among the residents of Norwich. However, we hope that the people of Norwich will stand firm together and refuse to allow any attempt to divide our fine city.”
No route has yet been planned for the protest, although EDL organisers have told Norfolk police of their intention.