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Two EDL leaders to leave group
Two leaders of the far-right English Defence League are leaving the group.
Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll, who set up the controversial group in 2009, announced their departure through counter-extremism think tank Quilliam today.
They were said to have decided to leave because they can no longer "keep extremist elements at bay".
As the unexpected news emerged, Mr Robinson tweeted: "hope people listen to my reasons".
In a statement issued through Quilliam, he said: "I have been considering this move for a long time because I recognise that, though street demonstrations have brought us to this point, they are no longer productive.
"I acknowledge the dangers of far-right extremism and the ongoing need to counter Islamist ideology not with violence but with better, democratic ideas."
The EDL, started in response to a demonstration by Muslim extremists as soldiers marched through Luton, has become infamous for street protests across the country, often resulting in violence as its members clashed with opposing groups such as Unite Against Fascism.
Outspoken Mr Robinson, who has been arrested several times, has become a significant figure and has conducted several television interviews, including one with the BBC in the wake of the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich earlier this year.
Quilliam, which call s itself the "world's first counter-extremism think tank", said it is helping Mr Robinson move away from the group and put his energy into countering extremism.
It called for other members of the EDL to follow in his footsteps, and for Islamist extremist leaders to also leave their respective groups.
Chairman and co-founder Maajid Nawaz said: "As well as being a very positive change for the United Kingdom, this is a very proud moment for Quilliam.
"This represents not a change but a continuation for us, as challenging extremism of all kinds forms the basis of our work.
"We have been able to show that Britain stands together against extremism regardless of political views and hope to continue supporting Tommy and Kevin in their journey to counter Islamism and neo-Nazi extremism."
The think tank is hosting a press conference for Mr Robinson and Mr Caroll at an " undisclosed location" this evening, it said.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, urged caution from organisations celebrating today's announcement, saying he could not take it seriously until both men rejected their views on Islam and Muslims, and called for them to apologise.
He said: "I met Tommy Robinson last week and during that meeting he indicated that he was leaving the EDL because he couldn't control the extremist group, impact on his family and wider legal cases he faces.
"At no stage did he reject his previous disgusting attacks on Islam and Muslims or apologise to the British people for the millions wasted policing their protests.
"I cannot take Tommy Robinson or Kevin Carroll's announcement seriously until they reject their fascist views on Islam and Muslims and would caution other organisations celebrating this announcement as a massive personal achievement.
"The EDL has been exposed for its racism, Islamaphobia and fascism and them leaving a sinking ship suggests the battle is being won.
"Muslims will not rest until the fascists are defeated and we as a community confront the issues of terrorism, child grooming and forced marriages"
"The Ramadhan Foundation calls on Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll to apologise for their hatred and reject their ideology today; otherwise, if they don't, we will understand they haven't changed."