The English Defense League demonstrate in Cambridge
The English Defence League demonstrates in Cambridge

Far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) will hold a rally in Manchester on the afternoon of Saturday 2 March.

Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd called on residents to "turn their backs" on the group as in a "powerful show of solidarity", and 17 public figures have signed a letter asking Mancunians to ignore the protest.

The demonstration will be patrolled by hundreds of Greater Manchester Police and a counter demonstration will be held by the Unite Against Fascism group.

The march will start at 1pm on 2 March in Albert Square, closing much of Manchester city centre to traffic.

The group claims to oppose 'radical Islam'. During its last Manchester rally, in 2009, ten people were injured and 44 arrested, with the cost to police and council authorities coming to £800,000.

Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said: "I understand that these events are emotive and polarise the views of individuals but we must respect everyone's right to a legal and peaceful protest and I want to make it clear to anyone who is coming with the sole intention of intimidating communities or inciting violence and racism, that we will take action against you.

"Both groups will hold their demonstrations in the afternoon at a time when families and shoppers will be visiting Manchester in large numbers.

"I want to reassure everyone who lives, works and socialises in Manchester that a police operation will be taking place, which is aimed at both ensuring residents and visitors are allowed to go about their business, while protecting people's democratic right to protest.

"There will be a large policing presence and if you have any concerns please feel free to speak to my officers."