North East miners are up in arms after receiving "threatening" telephone calls from supporters of the English Defence League (EDL).
According to leading members of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), the threats followed a march through Shotton Colliery, County Durham, of hundreds of supporters of the EDL earlier this month.
Many who made up the march had travelled from as far as Edinburgh and Sheffield, and only a handful were from the Shotton area, the DMA said.
Dave Hopper, DMA general secretary, said: “There are a lot of elderly people living in this former mining village and a march of this kind was unwelcome and unnecessary.
“What seems to have incensed some EDL members was the flying of the DMA Blackhall Lodge banner at the counter-demonstration.
“One or two people have contacted us and have been abusive towards our leading members. I’m also aware that similar abuse has been thrown at our local MP, Grahame Morris, who joined the anti-protest to demonstrate to the EDL that they were not welcome.
“But we will stand strong and we will not allow these extremists to intimidate us.”
Scores of police lined the streets of Shotton Colliery on November 9 as around 200 people, including children, protested for a second time over plans to convert a former pub into a Muslim education centre.
Mr Hopper accused EDL activists of fostering racial hatred while preying on ordinary working-class people. He said: “Instead of blaming the capitalist system, the banks and greedy employers as the source of our problems, they try to channel popular discontent against minorities and to foster racial hatred.
“Durham’s miners have a proud history of opposing fascism and encouraging the international solidarity of all people. Many miners died fighting fascism during the Spanish Civil War and in every one of our villages there is a war memorial to brave men who died fighting German and Italian fascism in World War Two.”
A spokesperson for the EDL was unavailable for comment at the time this article went to print.