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English Defence League to protest against proposed Shotton Islamic centre

Shotton Lane Social Club

RIGHT-WING organisation the English Defence League (EDL) has confirmed it is to protest in Shotton over plans to build an Islamic centre in the town.

Members of the EDL’s divisions from Stoke, Burnley, Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool and Chester have all been invited to the official protest at the old Shotton Lane Social Club, where the proposed centre would be built, on Saturday (January 22).

A spokesman for the Chester division of the EDL said the group had been liaising with North Wales Police and the aim was to make ‘a peaceful protest’.

EDL members are due to gather at Chester train station from noon-12.30pm before heading by train to Shotton, where they are predicted to arrive at about 1pm.

From there, the protestors are planning to go to The Central Hotel, before beginning a march to the club at 1.45pm.

When they arrive, speeches will be made to protest against plans for what they call the ‘Shotton mosque’.

The Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society (FMCS) is aiming to set up the centre at the former Shotton Lane club, which has been empty since it closed in August.

The group is more than halfway to raising the £150,000 needed to buy the venue after a TV appeal broadcast to the wider Muslim community.

Earlier this week the Chronicle revealed community leaders in Deeside after plans to build the ‘Islamic cultural centre’ threatened to spark trouble.

The British National Party (BNP) is co-ordinating a leaflet distribution campaign against the plans – but has distanced itself the EDL’s campaign.

FMCS chairman Monchab Ali insisted the proposal is not to build a mosque, but to promote a better understanding of the Islamic faith for the benefit of the wider community.

He said: “We all have a role to play in the community to work together. We are aiming to build an Islamic cultural centre, which will be open to everyone for people to learn about Islam.

“The idea is to promote community cohesion and we would invite schoolchildren to see the centre and get a better understanding of the Islamic faith and community.”

The society currently rents the Queensferry Institute building for Islamic and Arabic classes, which are held twice a week.

Mr Ali said the reason for the new base was because of growing class sizes.

Martin Smith, spokesman for campaign group Unite Against Fascism (UAF), said: “The UAF deplores the EDL’s protest against building a cultural centre.

“Instead of spreading lies and hate towards the Muslim community in Britain, we believe we should be able to celebrate anybody’s culture and live a life free of hate and bigotry.”

Deeside Sargeant Antony Heaword told the Chronicle: “We are working with the whole community to address concerns and provide reassurance and will respond to any specific threat as appropriate.”