Fights broke out and traffic ground to a halt when moderate Muslims confronted a group of about 12 men who regularly preach from a stall in Bury Park – the heart of Luton’s Muslim community.
After Friday prayers, more than 200 members of local mosques turned on the group who sparked outrage in March when they disrupted a parade by the Royal Anglian Regiment through the town centre.
They ( the extremists:HH)shouted ‘baby killers’ and ‘butchers of Basra’ at the returning soldiers as well as brandishing placards against the Iraq war.
But today the extremists were surrounded by a crowd as they began to set up their stall, shouting ‘We don’t want you here’ and ‘move on, move on’.
Angry words were exchanged and scuffles broke out between members of both groups, with the extremists shouting ‘Shame on you’ and ‘Get back to your synagogue’.
Farasat Latif, of the Islamic Centre in Luton, which was firebombed after the protest against the soldiers, said moderate members of his community took action because police had failed to move the group on.
He said the extremists, who follow the militant group led by Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed, had fuelled feelings against the Muslim community which led to a march last Sunday in Luton which was disrupted by white, right-wing extremists.
Mr Latif said: ‘We have been fighting these Muslim extremists for you. They represent nobody but themselves.
‘The community decided to move them on because the police won’t. We have asked them, but they did nothing.‘I don’t know if they will be back. We have been the victims twice over – from the stupidity of Muslim extremists who metaphorically pour petrol and fan the flames of the right wing extremists.
‘This was a peaceful demonstration and we hope they get the message that the law-abiding community is sick and tired of them.’