At least seven EDL supporters take part in demonstration after far-right group's leader is reportedly turned away at airport
Members of the far-right English Defence League protested in New York this weekend against plans for an Islamic cultural centre and mosque near Ground Zero.
The group's leader, who goes by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, and at least seven other EDL
supporters flew to the US to oppose the plans on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Robinson was refused entry at JFK airport, taken into custody and flown straight back to the UK, according to a report published on the anti-Islam Gates of Vienna website sourced to EDL activists travelling with him.
The rest of the delegation joined far-right leaders including Geert Wilders, the Dutch leader of the Freedom party, at the demonstration in lower Manhattan.
The contingent was pictured holding banners incorporating St George's cross, Israel's flag and the US stars and stripes, as well as the slogans "No Mosque at Ground Zero", "The more Islam, the less freedom", "No Sharia", and "No Surrender". They wore EDL T-shirts sporting the group's crusader shield logo.
Over the past 18 months in town centres across England the group has protested against the spread of Islamic institutions and in support of the armed forces. EDL demonstrators have been heard chanting racist slogans and have clashed with anti-fascist activists, and marches have been banned for fear of violence.
The decision to send protesters to America reflects the organisation's self-proclaimed "new phase of international outreach and networking", which began in April when supporters attended a Berlin demonstration in support of Wilders. The Dutchman said yesterday that New Yorkers must defend themselves against "the powers of darkness, the forces of hatred".
In June, the EDL sent delegates to speak at a "counter jihad" conference organised by the International Civil Liberties Alliance in Zurich, where they gave a presentation entitled The Anatomy of an EDL Demo.
Nick Lowles, of Searchlight, the anti-fascist monitoring organisation, said: "The EDL operates on two levels. There are the street activists such as the 120 that demonstrated in Oldham and 100 in London this weekend. But then there is the political agenda driven by a group of leaders whose ideas come from Christian fundamentalism. They are running a dual strategy and they see an international aspect to their goals where the uniting issue is anti-Islam."
The EDL is planning to join a far-right demonstration in Amsterdam on 30 October under the banner of the European Freedom Initiative. Organisations from Austria, Germany, Italy and France are also due to attend.