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Britain First and Maidstone Anti-Racism Network meet in Maidstone over 'mega mosque'

By John Nurden

Members of the far-right Britain First party clashed with anti-racism campaigners in Maidstone on Saturday.

Eight Britain First members visited the town to protest about the building of a new mosque.

They handed out leaflets in the town centre then stood in front of the building site in Mote Road with a Say No To The Mega Mosque banner.

Britain First protest outside site of the new Maidstone mosque. Picture: Britain First Facebook (7393541)
Britain First protest outside site of the new Maidstone mosque. Picture: Britain First Facebook (7393541)

Rival Maidstone Anti-Racist Network members soon joined them for a peaceful protest with the parties merely filming each other with mobile phones and exchanging insults.

Britain First leader Paul Golding said: "We have previously campaigned against plans to build a Mega Mosque in the heart of the historical town of Maidstone.

"After tearing down an existing mosque, they now propose to erect a grotesque three-storey structure which includes three shops. Our online petition has more than 55,000 signatures calling to halt the construction of this mosque. Within a few weeks we will deliver the petition to Maidstone Borough Council."

Britain First handing out leaflets in Maidstone. Picture: Britain First Facebook (7393545)
Britain First handing out leaflets in Maidstone. Picture: Britain First Facebook (7393545)

Steve Cheeseman of the Maidstone Anti-Racist Network said: "We were disappointed to learn that far-right group Britain First have decided to continue bringing their hate speech to Maidstone.

"This is the first time since late 2017 that the group has descended on Maidstone, campaigning against the redevelopment of Maidstone Mosque."

As soon as Britain First members were spotted in the town centre handing out leaflets around 1pm his members were alerted.

Britain First in Mote Road, Maidstone. Picture: Joanna Burns, Maidstone Anti-Racist Network (7393551)
Britain First in Mote Road, Maidstone. Picture: Joanna Burns, Maidstone Anti-Racist Network (7393551)

He said: "Around eight Britain First members were met by a similar number of Maidstone Anti-Racist Network activists who responded to the threat with no prior warning."

He said the public was invited to "recycle" the Britain First literature and added: "We replaced it with our own factual materials. We will continue to respond to the increasing threats towards Muslims in Maidstone."

The group has pledged to donate £10 to the mosque rebuilding fund for every Britain First member seen in Maidstone.

Mr Cheeseman said: "We would like to thank Britain First for helping us to donate an additional £80 to the redevelopment of Maidstone Mosque and support the Muslim members of our local community.”

The mosque already has planning permission. Iman Dr Muhammad Shabbir Usmani said it will include classrooms for the children, more space to pray, wash and rest facilities, a new library, flat and three shops.

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