English football manager hurt in Iraq protest

 

The manager of Oldham Athletic Football FC was attacked today after he was caught up in a skirmish outside a polling station in Manchester for the Iraq election.

Brian Talbot was passing the polling station in Manchester on his way to Oldham's FA Cup match against Bolton. As he passed, fighting had broken out between rival groups of Iraqis and one of them was accidentally struck by Talbot's car.

A mob of more than 20 then surrounded his car, smashing its windows and assaulting Talbot.

The fighting broke out after a group of around 200 demonstrators began protesting against the election. They clashed with voters who support the election. A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police described the skirmish as "a minor incident", which was quickly brought under control.

Meanwhile in London a group of around 50 protesters gathered outside the Wembley Conference and Exhibition Centre today. Waving banners and shouting slogans in Arabic, the demonstrators spoke out against the election in Iraq.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said one man had been arrested for affray.

In Glasgow, election officials forecast more than two thirds of the 1,333 people who registered to vote had cast their ballots by 1 p.m.

Mr Hugh Fulton, head of the city's Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program, said he had been impressed with the enthusiasm of the electorate. Voters have travelled to the Holland Street polling station from all over Scotland, Northern Ireland, the north of England and Dublin.

This afternoon four coachloads of Iraqis arrived from Newcastle.

Mr Fulton said there had been no trouble in or around the polling station. But up to 30 people at a time have been dancing in the streets to traditional music booming from car stereos.

He said: "We recruited a number of senior community leaders to make sure we could maintain a degree of order.

"We have witnessed a lot of high spirits and a number of people have been dancing in the streets.

"I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and determination of the people and it has been a privilege and an honour to be part of it."