Protesters, Cops Tangle as London Seethes Over Attack

Officials caution against anti-Islam response
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2013 4:46 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2013 5:50 AM CDT
Protesters Clash With Police After London Attack
Far-right group English Defense League leader, Tommy Robinson, left, with EDL supporters outside the Queens Arms public house in Woolwich, southeast London.   (AP Photo/PA, Neil Lancefield)

(Newser) – Yesterday's brutal killing of a soldier in southeast London prompted a local backlash, with some 100 men hurling bottles at police as they railed against Muslims. The protesters, carrying English flags, were supporters of an organization known as the English Defense League, the Guardian reports. "Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace. It's not," said the group's leader, Tommy Robinson. "What you saw today is Islam."

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Meanwhile, two attacks on mosques outside London resulted in a pair of arrests. A man entered one mosque with a knife; he's been arrested for attempted arson. Separately, a man was arrested for suspected racially-aggravated criminal damage to another mosque. In other news following the Woolwich killing:

  • The Muslim Council of Britain calls it "a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam ... We condemn this unreservedly." Another British Islamic leader tells the BBC that "the people who did this act yesterday do not speak in my name, do not speak for my community or the rest of the country."
  • "The dividing line is not between Islam and non-Islam," a former top official says, per the BBC. "It is between the terrorists and everyone else." Adds a local MP: "We must not allow this hideous incident to undermine or damage the harmonious relationship between the various groups who live in Woolwich and the surrounding area."
  • Leading British officials are meeting to discuss the attack, the New York Times reports. One major concern, per the Guardian: whether this was a "lone wolf" operation or a more organized one. Following a meeting, London Mayor Boris Johnson seemed to suggest the former, the BBC notes: "Everything I am hearing leads me to think that Londoners can go about their business in the normal way and we are going to bring the killers to justice."
(Read more London stories.)

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