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AT LEAST two fascists were arrested during a Manchester rally by the far-right Football Lads Alliance (FLA) on Saturday.
The hooligan organisation attempted to exploit the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena terrorist bombing, which killed 22 people, including many youngsters, at a pop concert on May 22 last year.
The FLA managed to muster 200 to 300 supporters at Saturday’s rally, while a counterdemonstration organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) attracted 600 anti-fascists.
Two fascists were arrested as they tried to attack the counterdemonstration, which was supported by MPs representing constituencies in north-west England, Labour councillors and trade unions including the National Education Union, GMB, Fire Brigades Union and Unison.
Dan Hett, brother of Manchester bombing victim Martyn Hett, supported the counterdemonstration.
The Survivors Against Terror co-founder said the FLA were “shamelessly hijacking the anniversary of the attacks to peddle their racist, Islamophobic views.”
He added: “We ran the racist Football Lads Alliance out of town.”
Speakers at the anti-fascist rally included Pete Middleman of the TUC’s North West region.
Participants held a minute’s silence in memory of those killed in the terrorist attack, followed by a reading of their names.
Paul Jenkins of Unite Against Fascism said: “Multicultural Manchester has shown that it does not welcome racists or fascists on our streets trying to exploit the horrific attack on the Arena in order to try to whip up racism and divide our communities.”
Unite Against Fascism co-convenor Weyman Bennett warned that danger still exists from the FLA and and an offshoot calling itself the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), which is working with Ukip.
The organisations are seen as the successors to the English Defence League, which was formerly able to mobilise thousands of racists and fascists.
“They plan to come to Manchester again on June 2,” Mr Bennett told the Morning Star. “With Ukip they are trying to build a street organisation.
“We now urge everyone to come out on the streets again on June 2 to protest against the racist DFLA.”
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