CAIRO - Worried British Muslims
are expected to flee their home village in Shotton Colliery, in North East England Durham County, to avoid confrontations with a far-right anti-Muslim protest.
We are very scared, Imran Nadeem, 38, who works in the village's Milco Store, told Hartlepool Mail newspaper on Friday, November 30.
There has been a Muslim presence in Shotton for at least the last 23 years, there are about five or six families, and we have been a very peaceful community.
Members of the English Defence League (EDL) are due to hold a demonstration in Shotton Colliery on Saturday, December 1, from 2pm.
The march is in protest at Durham County Council's approval of local businessman Kaiser Choudry's plans to turn the former Melrose Arms pub, in the village's Front Street, into a Muslim education centre.
Worried about their safety, Muslim families decided to leave the village early on Saturday, before returning to it after the protest.
We will be leaving the area for our safety tomorrow and we are worried about our business, Nadeem added.
The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls Islamic extremism in Britain.
Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
In November 2010, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain.
The Walthamstow rally is not the first to be banned for the extremist EDL group.
In September, the EDL was humiliated in Walthamstow when anti-fascists comprehensively routed it as it tried to stage a "national" demonstration.
Planning counter-demonstrations, anti-fascism activists warned that EDL has a history of violent protests.
Sabby Dhalu from Unite Against Fascism, which is expected to stage a counter-demonstration, warned that previous EDL demonstrations have led to riots, violence, criminal damage and loss of income as workplaces close.
Easington MP Grahame Morris said it is outrageous that people are stirring up feelings in this way.
Durham Police are drawing up plans to ensure the demonstration goes ahead peacefully.
The Mail reported last week that the EDL said this would be the first of many regional demonstrations.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 2005 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
The anti-Muslim tide has also been on the rise across Europe, with several countries are restricting the freedom of Muslims to wearing face-veil and building mosques.