Smoke bombs, cobble stones, bottles and coins were hurled at police as the English Defence League and their opponents descended on Birmingham city centre for simultaneous demonstrations.

One policeman suffered concussion during scuffles with protesters at Paradise Circus while other demonstrators were left bloodied by missiles and clashes with police in the shadow of the city’s new library.

An estimated 2,000 EDL supporters poured into Centenary Square on Saturday chanting anti-Islam slogans.

In Chamberlain Square about 300 people – some wearing balaclavas – from Unite Against Fascism and other groups turned out for their counter-demonstration.

More than 1,000 police officers from the West Midlands and other forces had been drafted in to keep the groups apart.

About 20 arrests were made in total with supporters of both factions being detained for public order offences.

In a move criticised by some, EDL supporters gathered from late morning at Broad Street’s Bar Risa as agreed with police .

Anti-Islam chants were soon echoing as attendees queued at the bar for their pre-demo drinks.

Outside, flags of St George boasting EDL divisions from as far afield as Grimsby were unfurled and the chanting continued.

EDL rally and anti-fascist protesters in Birmingham 

Chants of: “There’s only one Nick Griffin” and “England ‘till I die,” rang out between others attacking Allah.

As the crowd gathered more police riot vans lined up along the street, forming a barricade between the demonstrators on one side and onlookers on the other.

At one point about 20 climbed on top of a small fast food van prompting fears from some the roof would collapse under their weight.

Eventually, the EDL were escorted by a heavy police presence down Broad Street at which point the first of a series of scuffles took place.

Progressing towards Centenary Square, where the main demonstration with speeches took place, EDL leader Tommy Robinson, flanked by watchers, was quickly ushered to the staging area.

But even as the speeches began, many of the EDL supporters clashed with police. One group clambered on top of a bus shelter while fellow EDL members held up the roof to stop its collapse.

Others attacked the construction fence around the new Library Of Birmingham only to find riot police waiting on the other side as they broke through.

In the shadow of the ICC and Symphony Hall smoke bombs were hurled at police while fences surrounding the REP Theatre were also attacked.

On the other side of the square plastic bottles, gravel and coins were thrown at a line of police while guests at the Hyatt Hotel looked on from their windows.

While cheers rang out every time a missile found its mark, one man pulled up a cobble stone, smashed it in two, before covering his face and hurling it at the line of police.

During the disturbances some suffered head injuries and were seen wandering around with bleeding wounds.

One appeared to be hurt when fencing around the library was pulled down on top of him.

Unite Against Fascism protesters confront police in Chamberlain Square
A Muslim Defence League protester confronts police in Chamberlain Square
 

Meanwhile, more than 250 anti-fascist protesters gathered in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square in a counter-demonstration against the English Defence League .

Several attempts were made to break through heavily-manned police cordons which separated the rival factions.

Police kettled protesters in the square for more than two hours as they dispersed EDL supporters first.

Motorcycle outriders stopped traffic as they escorted coach loads of EDL supporters out of the city.

Masked men, some wearing bandanas over their faces and others with balaclavas rushed at riot police in an effort to get to the EDL demo.

Calling themselves the Muslim Defence League the Asian men said they were defending the city from “racist thugs”.

One scarfed man, who gave his name as Zaffar, said: “We are all local lads and we are protecting our city.

“What are they doing here anyway? It’s our holy month of Ramadan and they’ve come here to goad us so we’re going to give them what they are looking for.”

Officers in full protective anti-riot gear and wielding batons restrained themselves amid serious provocation by anarchist elements who had joined the Unite Against Fascism demo.

“Police protect Nazis” and other anti-police chants echoed across Chamberlain Square as demonstrators took out their frustrations on officers.

Speaking after the protests, Birmingham’s chairman for social cohesion and community safety, said he believed they had passed off relatively peacefully.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar said: “We are obviously disappointed that the EDL chose Birmingham to host this demonstration.

“Birmingham doesn’t really need this sort of attention but the police have executed a great plan to keep both groups apart.”

Coun Zaffar added: “My message to the EDL would be to stay away from Birmingham – your message of hate divides communities and is not welcome.”

West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said 20 people had been arrested for public order offences.

She added: “A great deal of time, effort and thought has gone into today’s events and it is reassuring to see that both demonstrations have largely passed off without serious incident.

“We are aware of some instances of criminal damage and a number of assaults have been reported, which will be the subject of our ongoing inquiries as we move forward from today’s operation.

“Most people who came to Birmingham to go about their daily business in the shopping areas would have done so without having been greatly affected by the protests, which is pleasing.

“This has been a successful operation, due in no small part to the excellent work between police, our partner agencies and representatives of our communities.

She added: “We recognise that the people of Birmingham have been both concerned and inconvenienced and we would like to thank them for their tolerance, co-operation and patience.”

EDL supporters outside Bar Risa on Broad Street ahead of their rally in Centenary Square
EDL supporters outside Bar Risa on Broad Street ahead of their rally in Centenary Square
 

• The Broad Street bar which was asked by police to host the English Defence League protesters ahead of the demonstration in Birmingham on Saturday is appealing for charities to come forward to apply for the cash raised.

Hundreds of EDL members gathered in Bar Risa ahead of their rally in Centenary Square, where trouble flared as demonstrators clashed with police and members of anti-fascist groups.

Rumours circulated around social networking sites that Islamic Relief, an international aid and development charity, was set to receive the money raised from drink sales.

But a spokesman for Bar Risa said no decision had been made about which charity would be receiving the cash.

He said: “A decision about who will receive the money will be made during the week.

“At the moment we are appealing for any groups who believe they are worthy of a charitable donation to contact us.

“ Police made several requests to us to host the EDL members before their demonstration.

“The gathering in the bar was peaceful and the EDL members were polite and respectful to staff.

“We do not support the EDL. We hosted them to help the community around Broad Street.

“We hope the money goes to a local charity.”

Bar Risa can be contacted on 0121 632 4936.