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Protest against Britain First attracts hundreds

Huge crowds have gathered to march against Britain First this afternoon.

The peaceful demonstration was organised after the far-right group held its own protest outside Canterbury mosque at the weekend.

Those behind today's march say they want to show solidarity with the Muslim community.

Crowds protest against Britain First
Crowds protest against Britain First

And they appear to have strong support, with hundreds of people gathering outside Darwin college and marching towards the mosque in Giles Lane.

On Sunday, an open day at Canterbury Mosque was attended by almost 300 visitors, but marred by a small group of banner-waving demonstrators from Britain First.

University of Kent politics student Nic Weatherill organised the march. He said today: "As everyone knows there was a small Britain First protest going on here in Sunday and it was doing the rounds on Facebook so I thought I would set something up to counter that.

"I expected a response. I saw so many people angry on Facebook, but to set something up and have 600 people turn up is amazing. Absolutely wonderful."

Queues of people outside the mosque
Queues of people outside the mosque

Once at the mosque, crowds queued to get inside, taking part in tours and learning about Islam.

 "The university of Kent is a very accepting, liberal community. We are really accepting of peoples' views. If someone wants to come to a mosque and pray, that's fine with me, and everyone else here has that opinion." - Student Daniel Plummer

Mr Weatherill said he was proud of his fellow students at the university and said they wouldn't be divided by "bigotry". 

He had a message for Britain First: "Stop spreading your message of hate in the way you do.

"If you want to complain about Islam, come and do it in a debate, in a nice chilled out setting, not being aggressive.

"You have the right to say what you want, but you don't have the right to use such bigotry.

"I would invite them here for tea and cakes but I doubt they would come down.

"Today shows we do care about the Islamic community and we won't let people like Britain First tell us how bad they are."

Students and others across the community discussed the march on social media today, using the hashtag #WeAreUKC

Many were commenting on how proud they were to be a part of the university.

Two first year students in the queue into the mosque today were Rosemary Foster, 18, studying drama, and Daniel Plummer, 21, who studies criminology.

Daniel said: "I'm here to show solidarity with the Muslim community and every community because I don't see the point in Britain First coming here because they have no support here.

"What they stand for is, well they don't stand for anything really. They stand for rubbish as far as I'm concerned.

"The University of Kent is a very accepting, liberal community. We are really accepting of peoples' views.

"If someone wants to come to a mosque and pray, that's fine with me, and everyone else here has that opinion."

Britain First protesters outside Canterbury Mosque last Sunday.
Britain First protesters outside Canterbury Mosque last Sunday.

Rosemary added: "I met the Britain First protesters when they came on Sunday, and I just thought they were horrible - rude, intimidating and aggressive, so me being here is saying among everyone else, that I don't agree with it.

"They spoke about the university in the video they posted and said that we are all white, liberal, brain-washed students, but being liberal is not a bad thing and the fact we are all here shows that we are strong."

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