Sheffield residents had mixed opinions on the English Defence League rally – with some supporting the group’s protest and others calling on the organisation to stay away from the city.
The demonstration on Saturday was sparked by now-abandoned proposals to turn The Pheasant Inn on Barnsley Road into a mosque.
Plans to convert the pub into a place of worship were mooted by the Firth Park Cultural Centre, which is believed to have dropped the bid because of the high sale price.
Mark Broomhead, aged 53, from Shiregreen, said he was ‘just trying to do his shopping’ at Sheffield Lane Top and he thought the EDL’s protest was not justified.
“People have got concerns about immigration and jobs, but a place of worship is a place of worship, whether it’s a church or a mosque,” he said.
“The police cannot win. They’ve got to be prepared, and if they weren’t here people would be asking why.”
Another onlooker, who did not wish to be named, said the EDL was ‘wasting everyone’s money’.
“The pub isn’t going to be a mosque anyway,” said the man, also aged 53 and from Nether Edge.
“I think the EDL like to turn up in towns on a Saturday because it’s something to do. It’s an exercise in futility. They like to provoke and they like the impact.
“You have to police these events but the money would be better spent putting bobbies on the street.”
But a woman from Shiregreen, who also declined to be named, said she had turned out to support the EDL with her husband.
“A mosque would cause havoc round here with traffic, it’s an accident blackspot,” she said.
“We’re here for the EDL, but no-one wants trouble, we just want to show what we think. It’s scary when you see all the police out for peaceful people.
“You need officers, but not that many.”
And one resident on Elm Lane said he was ‘neither bothered nor not bothered’ about the demonstrations yards away from his home.
“I’m pushing 80 so I’ve seen it all before,” said the pensioner, adding: “Sheffield has changed beyond all recognition.”
During the rally English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson gave a speech, saying ‘We don’t want any more mosques in this country’, while Unite Against Fascism and One Sheffield Many Cultures waved placards and banners, chanting ‘EDL go to hell’ and ‘This is our city’.