UK police arrest far-right activists in London

November 11, 2011 - 12:10 PM
Britain Armistice Day

Soldiers march after attending a service of remembrance at the Cenotaph in London, Thursday Nov. 11, 2010. Britons fell silent as the clock struck 11:00 am to remember those who have died in war. Armistice day marks the anniversary of peace returning to Europe at the end of the First World War.(AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

LONDON (AP) — British police arrested more than 170 far-right activists near London's main war memorial Friday, saying the officers acted to prevent a breach of the peace.

The Metropolitan Police said the English Defense League supporters were arrested outside a pub in Whitehall, site of the Cenotaph monument.

They were loaded onto a bus and transported to several police stations.

Police would not comment on reports the group planned to march on a protest camp against corporate greed outside St. Paul's Cathedral.

Friday is Armistice Day, when people gather at the Cenotaph and across the country to observe two minutes' silence in memory of those killed in wars. It commemorates the end of World War I, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.

The English Defense League casts itself as a peaceful opponent of radical Islam, but opponents say it is racist and its protests have often turned violent.

Last year on Armistice Day, its members clashed with members of the small radical Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades, who burned paper poppies, worn at this time of year to commemorate war dead.

The Muslim group had planned to protest Friday, but on Thursday the British government banned the organization. Muslims Against Crusades announced it was disbanding and canceled its "Hate for Heroes" demonstration.