The dark side of Britain's multicultural society was on full display yesterday when clashes erupted between Islamic extremists and anti-Muslim groups at a homecoming parade for British soldiers in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The 150 soldiers from 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment marching through Barking yesterday were greeted by a group known as Muslims Against Crusades who waved black flags and placards with slogans such as "You are slaves to the government, we are slaves to Allah" and "Hitler's henchmen had the same excuse: We were just doing our jobs".

The group was countered however by members of the English Defence League and other anti-Muslim groups, who hurled pork sausages and abuse at the MAC. The anti-Muslim protestors used slogans such as "Muslim bombers off our streets" and branded the MAC "scum".

The police had already got wind of a demonstration ahead of the parade and managed to separate the two groups on opposite sides of the parade. The MAC activists were kept away from their EDL counterparts and were given safe passage to Barking underground station.

While the soldiers marching in the parade ignored the clashes, which led to two arrests, relatives of servicemen expressed their disgust at the Muslim protestors.

Charlene Byrne, 24, attended the parade. Her boyfriend Lance Corporal Scott Hardy was killed two months ago in an explosion, he was one of five killed in the Royal Anglian Regiment during its 6 month tour of Afghanistan.

Ms Byrne said, "It's terrible this group has got away with it. Obviously, not everyone supports what's happening in Afghanistan, but they shouldn't take it out on the soldiers."